"Bonnie White Rose"
It’s a racing certainty that very few Saddlers supporters would have forecast Walsall to start this season with a 7-game unbeaten run, but that (incredibly) is our current position. In trying to preserve this position we welcome Grant McCann’s Doncaster Rovers outfit, who are probably the strongest opponents to visit the Banks’s’s’ so far. The only factor keeping them below the play-off zone is goal difference, and with Andy Butler (referred to as “One of our own” on their message board) in their side we can bank on facing skilful and determined opposition. Officially Andy is their vice-captain, but with captain Tommy Rowe currently out injured for 10 weeks it seems that the armband will be worn by the ex-Saddler. Leading goalscorers are John Marquis and Mallik Wilks, with 3 apiece … Rovers’ League One current form looks like this:-
Aug 11 Wycombe Wanderers (H) Won 3-0
Aug 18 Burton Albion (A) Lost 1-0
Aug 21 Shrewsbury Town (H) Drew 0-0
Aug 25 Portsmouth (H) Drew 0-0
Sep 1 Peterborough Utd (A) Drew 1-1
Sep 8 Luton Town (H) Won 2-1
(It’s worth noting that the draw at Peterborough represents the only League One points dropped by Posh so far…)
Dean Keates is faced with the conundrum of deciding which 11 of his squad of winners to select for this one, and although certain players have “nailed on” places, there is certainly room for manoeuvre in the Midfield and Striking departments. Andy Cook demonstrated his value to the side by coming on for an end-of-game cameo at Barnsley and scoring, and the thinking may well be that his current level of fitness is best suited to that role. Zeli Ismail may well be fit for this game, and Kieron Morris will no doubt have been knocking on Dean Keates’ door and putting his case for selection. The team spirit is there in spades, and (as the old saying goes) success breeds success - it’s staggeringly obvious that players who were regulars under Jon Whitney have significantly upped their game under Dean’s management, and long may that continue!
Prediction? As with the Barnsley game (which I did say would end up 1-1) I think this one will be more of a challenge than many people think. Obviously 3 points would be very welcome, but a draw will give us another valuable point, and a record of Played 8, Won 4, Drawn 4, Lost 0 is fine by me … let’s say another 1-1, with Ferrier getting on the scoresheet?