Date: 24th August 2006 at 9:51am
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Saturday do we not only welcome back Julian Joachim to Bescot, we also welcome a team which have finished in the higher reaches of League two in the past couple of seasons. They will be hoping to build on last seasons eight place, having invested in some useful players over the summer.

The men from the impressive 96.6 TFM Darlington Arena, in recent weeks have not only brought in JJ in a deal that could cost them a reported 200k, they have also seen proven striker Alun Armstrong return to the club. Another returning player Barry Conlon who resigned following a spell at Barnsley has hit four goals already this season. They have been joined by star midfield player Michael Cummins who signed from Port fail, suprising many by dropping to league two. Also comming in are Darren Holloway and Patrick Collins who impressed in Darlingtons midweek cup win at Stoke City.
Pre season Darlington hit the ground running beating Middlesborough and Bradford City. The Quakers then won there opening game 4-0 against Macclesfield, before spoiling Accrington’s return to league football by wining 2-0. Then the wheels came off with a 4-1 defeat at Boston and a 2-1 home defeat to table toppers Swindon. The promotion bandwaggon seems to be back on track following the Stoke game.

No doubting the size of the task in front of us if we want to continue our recent run.

Vital Quotes:

Manager Richard Money expects a tough game but could also have some selection posers as several of the players who performed well against a strong Plymouth side may struggle to keep hold of there shirts.
‘it is important to have a good squad with the number of games we’ve got comming up, and after a long journey back from Devon I might consider bringing in one or two just to add some fresh legs to the team’

Walsall Team News:

Darren Wrack and Alex Nicholls continue there fight to regain fitness but it seems better news on the other injured players.
Dickie Dosh said ‘Martin Butler, Mark Kinsella and Martin Dobson will probably be okay for the weekend so should be available to me, and Tony Bedeau might be available too.’
It is unclear how far off Alan Picken is on returning to the 16, and James Constable although been a suprise inclusion midweek is clearly not 100% fit and may not feature on the bench

Player to watch: Carlos Fangueiro

Signed last friday, scored the stoppage time goal on saturday, played well midweek out wide and up front. All in all it has been an exciting start to his Bescot career. Things can only get better as he catches up fitness having spent pre season on trial at various clubs, also his carrying a slight knock. In local press interviews Carlos has indicated how he turned down various offers to return to Portugal to prove his worth in the English game, it can only be good news for the sadlers.

Darlington Team News:

Midfielder Craig Keltie has been ruled out for six weeks whilst midfielder Rowson may well make his debut at some point. Up front they have plenty of options with Conlon and Joachim setting the early pace in the goalscoring charts.
It is in defence where there recent problems have been, star defender Shelton Martis has left for pastures new, defenders Joey Hutchinson is on the way back from injury and has been rushed back, whilst fellow defender Darren Holloway missed some pre season and likewise searching for full fitness. Patrick Collins however impressed midweek, and in midfield Michael Cumins will be pulling the strings.

Read match report on Darlintons last game

Player to watch: Julian Joachim

The player most Saddlers wanted to stay last season following his goal exploits whilst on loan at the end of the previous season. Strangly if he had of stayed instead of returning home to Boston things might have been very different at Bescot last season.
We all know about the threat JJ will pose, an eye for goal, pace and a suprising high spring often catching defenders out. Anthony Gerrard and Ian Roper have seen it all at close hand but will struggle against his pace.

Match Facts & Stats

last 6 results of this fixture
Football League Two Walsall 2-0 Darlington 14-03-1995
Football League Two Walsall 3-0 Darlington 19-03-1994
Football League Two Walsall 2-2 Darlington 12-12-1992
English Division 4 Walsall 2-2 Darlington 08-09-1990
English Division 3 (old) Walsall 4-2 Darlington 13-12-1986
English Division 3 (old) Walsall 0-0 Darlington 22-03-1986
Last Darlington win
English Division 3 North Walsall 0-1 Darlington 17-04-1922

Ref Watch:

Mr Jon Moss from Yorkshire
Three games and seven yellow cards this season, five of which were in his first game, Grimsby v Boston.
Last season he was incharge of our home defeat to Oldham. He had 31 games last season issuing 108 yellows and 8 reds.
For the record he had two Darlington games and in both Darlington lost 1-0

Match Prediction:

History seems to be on our side, and Darlington seem to be blowing hot and cold at the moment (although I expect them to make the play offs at least)
But it is games like this the saddlers usually let us down I will go for a score draw could even be 2-2

Next Fixtures:

Saturday 2nd September away to Barnet


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