"There once was a young man of Kent… "
(First line of a traditional limerick)
We played the Gills way back in August, winning 2-1 and strengthening our place among the early season front-runners in League One. Our goals that day were from Morgan Ferrier and Isaiah Osbourne, and our defence on Saturday will probably be identical, the only absentee being Jack Fitzwater. In alliterative terms this season has seen us successively soaring, stuttering, stumbling and staggering to 16th place, and as Gillingham are only one place and a single point behind us it seems likely on current form that we will be leap-frogged in the same manner as last week by Scunthorpe United. That game clearly illustrated the perils of not keeping close tabs on the opposition’s biggest threat … in the Iron’s case it was Lee Novak, and Gillingham’s leading scorer (by a country mile) is Tom Eaves, who has 15 goals to his name. The sheer unpredictability of some clubs is perhaps highlighted by Gillingham though - there won’t be many clubs at the end of the season who have done the double over Portsmouth, but Gillingham have already achieved that, winning 2-0 in both games … current form:-
15 Dec Wycombe Wanderers (H) Drew 2-2
22 Dec Charlton Athletic (A) Lost 2-0
26 Dec Portsmouth (H) Won 2-0
29 Dec Doncaster Rovers (H) Lost 1-3
1 Jan Southend United (A) Lost 2-0
12 Jan Burton Albion (A) Won 2-3
Plenty of rumours flying around concerning Dean Keates’ activities in the January transfer window as he tries to find some kind of formula for putting points on the board rather than frittering them away. Our current form is easily the joint worst in League One, having only picked up 2 points from the last five games - we share this achievement with the execrable Oxford United. The departures of Jack Fitzwater and Russell Martin (not to mention Josh Ginnelly) have led to all sorts of ex-Saddler names being linked to a return to Bescot - Paul Downing, James Wilson, Jordy Hiwula, Matt Preston, Malvind Benning, Antony Gerrard, even Milan Lalkovic - but as the Express & Star constantly says … “All quiet at the Banks’s”.
Prediction? An away win admittedly looks extremely unlikely but in the spirit of completely unjustified optimism that has been the bedrock of supporting Walsall for many years, let’s hope for a 1-1 draw, with an Andy Cook equaliser cancelling out Tom Eaves’ opener for the Gills (which we will have conceded in the first 10 minutes as is our custom).