"Wanderers in that happy valley"
“The time has come, the walrus said” … for Walsall to re-discover that magical spark that saw us comfortably in the top 6 in League One before embarking on what looks like an inexorable slide towards the kind of position confidently predicted before the season got under way. Our most recent 5 games have yielded a measly 4 points, and if that were not worrying enough those same 5 games have seen us score just the 1 League goal.
Unfortunately for us, Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe Wanderers side has gathered 10 points from their most recent 5 games, scoring 9 goals in the process. Ainsworth will be remembered by many Walsall supporters for a brief loan stint here in 2002/3, making 5 appearances and scoring one goal. Although the Chairboys are 4 points below us in League One it should be noted that they have scored 5 more goals than we have, and the man to watch out for (well, you can’t miss him, to be fair) is Adebayo Akinfenwa - known as “The Beast”, Akinfenwa appears to defy all conventional wisdom regarding fitness and age … he is now 36 years old, weighs in at around 16 stone, and is Wycombe’s top scorer. Don’t be deceived by his girth - this guy can bench press 200kg (almost double his own weight) and certainly knows where the net is. Another striker to watch (at nearly the same age) is Craig Mackail-Smith, whose exploits at Peterborough saw him scoring 80 goals in 4 years. Current League One form for Wycombe Wanderers:-
Sep 29 Southend United (H) Lost 2-3
Oct 2 Fleetwood Town (A) Drew 1-1
Oct 6 Burton Albion (H) Won 2-1
Oct 13 Coventry City (A) Lost 1-0
Oct 20 Scunthorpe United (H) Won 3-2
Oct 23 Rochdale (H) Won 3-0
It isn’t all doom and gloom for us - Wycombe’s defence is occasionally something less than water-tight, and they have conceded 4 more goals than us … the problem though (of course) is that Dean Keates needs to find the appropriate Walsall strikers who can test that leakiness and SCORE!! Cook, Ferrier and Ismail share our “top scorer” records so far, but everyone seems to have gone off the boil at the same time. The winning mentality that was so evident earlier this season has been superseded by a non-scoring mentality, and fixtures like this one will be quite a test for Keates’ tactical and motivational skills.
Prediction? I can’t see us keeping a clean sheet, but we should be able to squeeze a couple of goals at “Fortress Banks’s”, so hopefully 5pm will see a home win by 2-1 … it would be encouraging to see Andy Cook and Morgan Ferrier as our scorers, but it’s the result that counts and I’d be more than happy to see a recalled Devlin and Ismail netting.