"The man in question? Well, that be me.
The setting? Cheltenham Town.
So gather all, come, sit round, My tale I shall tell"
(“The Pastor’s daughter Nelly” - The Red Rain)
A real test for Darrell Clarke’s squad this week as we welcome the Robins of Cheltenham Town, who haven’t lost a League 2 match since the back end of August. They occupy a comfortable 6th place in the table on 22 points, with the enviable goal difference of +10. There is an ex-Saddler on their books in the form of Reuben Reid, but he hasn’t figured for them recently (wasn’t he known as “Sick Note” when he was a Walsall player?). There’s another connection - John Ward managed the Robins a few years ago, and saw them promoted from League 2 in 2006 via the play-off final. Current form:-
Sep 7 Stevenage (H) Won 4-2
Sep 14 Salford City (A) Won 0-2
Sep 17 Bradford City (H) Won 3-2
Sep 21 Plymouth Argyle (A) Won 0-2
Sep 28 Crewe Alexandra (H) Drew 1-1
Oct 5 Oldham Athletic (A) Drew 1-1
Their match last weekend against Newport County was postponed (International call-ups) so not only are they in the play-off zone, they also have a game in hand! Happy days for Robins fans…
Hard to forecast the composition of Darrell Clarke’s matchday squad - much will depend on his assessment of the opposition (this is done on a match-by-match basis), and also on the progress of any injuries, specially to those players who are becoming prone to persistent visits to the treatment table. The good news is that Kory Roberts appears to be nearing a return to full fitness, having played 90 minutes in the reserves game against Mansfield Town this week.
Prediction for the Cheltenham result? Based on the current form of both sides, a draw would be quite an achievement for The Saddlers … if we say 1-1 (The Robins have conceded 11 goals in 12 games so far) with a goal from the ever-dependable Sinclair, and cross our fingers that we don’t ship a bucketful.