Walsall meeting the opposition.

Walsall meeting the opposition.

At the start of this campaign, Walsall had a mixed run of form. However, they have been excellent recently winning six of seven games thus they will provide a challenge to a struggling Tranmere team at Prenton Park this weekend. 

Ahead of the game, on The Wirral, against the strong Saddlers side, I spoke to Walsall Fan TV’s Simon Ward.

You can find another in-depth conversation between us both, on YouTube, with this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMo59RaFPOo&feature=youtu.be (Excuse my signing information at the start!). 

After finishing 16th last season, Walsall are currently positioned 9th and have won two of their last three games defeating Swindon and Mansfield Town. How would you describe the campaign so far?

Really pleased with the improvement this season – Walsall are a mentally stronger team this season.

How has last summer’s recruitment fared? Players such as young attacking midfielder Jacob Maddox and winger Tom Knowles were brought in. Who should the club be looking at signing this month?

One of the key signings before the start of the season was Joe Riley – sadly he has not played yet due to a strange foot injury. He should give us a big boost if he eventually gets fit. Jacob  Maddox has shown some flashes but Tom Knowles has impressed – he seems to get better every month.

With Liam Bennet going back to Cambridge and Danny Johnson being taken away from us by his parent club Mansfield Walsall as depleted. If we want to sustain our push for playoffs we will need to replace Bennett and Johnson. With some loanees not returning the squad looks light so Walsall could do with a back up keeper, full back and a couple of strikers.  

Former Newport County boss Michael Flynn took over from Matthew Taylor in February. What are your thoughts on him, his playing style and the relationship he has built with supporters?

The supporters liked Matt Taylor but Flynn is a much stronger manager and the supporters have taken to him. So much so, our 13 games without a win didn’t really get him much grief. The current form has backed up the faith they have in him.

Leigh Pomlett and Benjamin Boycott are joint Chairmen of The Saddlers. Thoughts on them? What would you like to see changed at the club in the near future?

Leigh Pomlett and Ben Boycott have done exactly what they said they would – they have purchased the freehold which the previous chairman had used to bleed rent from the club. The playing budget is more competitive now and Walsall have the backing to move forward again.

Loanee Danny Johnson has fourteen goal involvements in 25 games, finding the net twelve times. How would you describe his playing style and who are the team’s other key players?

Danny Johnson is on loan from Mansfield or he was. Mansfield refused to let him come to Walsall permanently as his goals were potentially taking a playoff spot from them. He is not the quickest but is a great finisher.   

Where will the key battles be played out on Saturday?

Isaac Hutchinson has been up and down this season. If he plays well he will create chances for Walsall.

Score prediction? The last meeting between Tranmere and Walsall was in late September as Elliott Nevitt struck the winner for The Whites in the 96th minute at the Bescot Stadium.

I remember the Nevitt winner was hard to take. Walsall played well and should have won. It was ultimately the last but one in our poor run. Walsall are much better now and will be looking to win. My prediction 0-2.

Linking the two clubs together, as I’ve touched on former Rovers man Jacob Maddox in a previous question. How would you describe centre-back Peter Clarke’s time at Walsall as he now finds himself on loan at Oldham Athletic? Manny Monthe is at Walsall too.

Jacob Maddox has some skills and is a good squad player. You had the best years of Peter Clarke. He didn’t particularly impress but wasn’t awful either. Manny Monthe was initially slow and ponderous when he came to us but has grown into a superb player. Definitely a contender for player of the season at the moment. 

Thoughts on Tranmere? Where do you see them finishing in May?

Although 15th, Tranmere are just 5 pts off 7th but you have a tough February. it depends how you come through that. I’m sure you will be around 7th-12th come May.

Tranmere face Walsall at Prenton Park this Weekend, a lot has happened since last Saturday’s home draw to Sutton United including the departures of both Ross Doohan and Elliott Nevitt. Brad Walker, a midfielder from Port Vale, has been signed on a long contract.

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