A slightly early look ahead to our annual flirtation with the League Cup, which begins and may just end with an away tie at Championship side Blackburn Rovers.
Blackburn have enjoyed a decent few years in the Championship, though finishing consecutive seasons on 69 points has seen them twice fall just short of the top six. Despite missing the play-offs on goal difference last term, they did make the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and the Fourth Round of the LC.
They will be weakened by the loss of their leading scorer in recent seasons, Sjoke-born Chile international Ben Brereton Diaz, who has left for sunnier climes. Meanwhile, swaggering toss-post Bradley Dack has opted for Sunderland, having spent six seasons at Ewood Park.
A bit of free hit in a game we’re not expected to win or draw. Wouldn’t expect a lot of changes from the season opener at Morecambe, but will be interesting to see if we revert to a flat back four/five in a game where we wont expect to see much of the ball.
No injuries beyond the long-term absentees at the time of writing, though Liam Kinsella is not expected to feature, having left and joined another club.
The First Time
The first game between the clubs was an FA Cup tie in January 1931. An honourable 1-1 at Ewood Park took the tie to a replay that Blackburn won 3-0 at Fellows Park five days later. We wouldn’t meet again for more than 40 years, a goalless Third Division tie in September 1971.
The Worst Time
A 3-0 defeat at Blackburn in the penultimate game of the 88/89 season piled further misery on already relegated Walsall, who finished rock bottom in Division 2. The Saddlers ended 16 points adrift in a campaign that featured that 15-game losing streak.
The Last Time
An early brace from Danny Graham secured a 2-1 away win for Blackburn in February 2018. A Jack Fitzwater goal on the cusp half-time halved the deficit, but the then league-leaders held out despite the relentless efforts of Justin Shaibu and Julien Ngoy. Boss Jon Whitney was sacked four games later.
Played For Both
With the face of a young Frank Skinner chewing a wasp, Mitchel Candlin’s goal scoring exploits at youth level garnered great hope amongst Walsall fans and the attention of higher-league scouts.
It was Blackburn who took a punt, loaning Candlin on the last day of the 2018 summer transfer window with the view to a permanent move. It didn’t work out, and a swiftly returned Candlin would make just 8 first team appearances before slipping into non-league, where he most recently played for Chasetown.
Also: Scott Dann, Andy Taylor, Danny Gurthrie (sp), Paul Downing, Simeon Jackson…
Clutching at straws, but Blackburn exited the competition to lower tier opposition as recently as 21/22, knocked out in the First Round by local rivals Morecambe.
We’ve progressed beyond the First Round of the League Cup eight times in the past 20 years and twice in the last seven…
Vaguely Interesting Fact
When the clubs last met in the League Cup back in November 2002, the starting teams comprised 13 different nationalities: Australian, Brazilian, English, German, Guyanese, Irish, Italian, Jamaican, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Northern Irish and a New Zealander.
Blackburn also had a Scotman and a Norwegian on the bench.
UTS Match Poll
- Walsall Win (90 Minutes)
- Blackburn Win (90 Minutes)
- Walsall Win (Pelanties)
- Blackburn Win (Pelanties)