So it is farewell to 2007 be visiting one of the teams that gave us our darkest moment in 2007 by beating us 3-0 at home earlier this year. However they say it is the darkest before the dawn and that defeat saw us go on a run which has seen only one defeat (home to Southend) since. However it is light which may cause the postponement of the game theft of cable from one pylon means extensive re wiring is needed before saturday or the the game may well be off.
This game is a case of two of the main in form teams going head to head with Oldham unbeaten in 11, whilst the Saddlers are unbeaten in 10 away games after the Boxing day draw at Vale.
The Oldham manager is wary of the threat a confident Saddlers team can pose, and is also fully aware the Saddlers are much changed from the last meeting. However they are confident that they can turn home draws into wins.
Latics boss Sheridan admitted the last game of 2007 would be one of their stiffest tests but insisted: “We will be ready.”
And he added: “It will be a totally different game from the one at their place.
“Walsall have improved dramatically since then and are the perfect example of what can happen in a wide open division. They will be going into every game believing they can win but we have been a match for most of the top teams and I would always prefer to play a side in good form.”
Walsall, who have kept five clean sheets and let in two goals in their last seven games, will include Latics on-loan striker Michael Ricketts, who has scored four times in 12 games.
Sheridan will keep the side that drew 0-0 with league leaders Nottingham Forest on Boxing Day.
That result saw Oldham drop to 15th place but they are still only six points off a play-off spot and a big improvement in home form – they have won just two so far – will be vital as they enter the second half of the season. The Latics will also have to be careful not to pick up any more bookings.
Defender Neal Trotman is now out of the FA Cup-tie against Everton next week after collecting his fifth yellow card against Forest while Ryan Bertand, Neil Kilkenny and top-scorer Craig Davies are all walking a disciplinary tightrope on four cautions apiece.
Oldham Team News:
Andy Liddle and Sean Gregan are the only confirmed absentees. Trotman and Stam look certain to combine in the centre of defense, whilst we will have to be wary of on loan Blues midfielder Neil Kilkiney. Up front ex dingle Davies partners HMP’s finest Lee Hughes
Player to watch: Lee Hughes
He gets a rough ride in these parts due to the cowardly antics which saw the experienced striker serve a prison term. However he has now found his feet in league one and is in a rich vein of form. Walsall beware
Walsall Team News:
Daniel Fox is missing due to his two yellow cards in the Vale match. If Paul Boetien isn’t fit enough to replace him then Taudry may well follow up his debut against Millwall with another run out.
In midfield Dobson will not be risked unless there is no other option but he maybe required to sit on the bench. The problem is if Sonko needs to be rested to give a chance to regain form. Up front Ricketts can play against his current employees but we wait to see if Tommy Mooney is fit enough after lasting less than ten minutes against Vale with a hamstring injury. If he doesn’t make it then either one of the youngsters may be needed up front or we will need to go 4-3-3 or 4-5-1.
The other question mark is if Gerrards ban comes into force the FA list sugest he will be able to play leaving his replacement Roper on the bench until the Doncaster game.
Player to watch: Michael Ricketts
Whether you love him or hate him all eyes will be on the striker on saturday.
Match Facts & Stats
Two in form teams go head to head, the stats say draw
I would settle for a draw as we try and ensure that Oldham do not complete the double over us on saturday. However with suspensions and players carrying knocks our squad is fully stretched so perhaps a first defeat is on the cards
Happy New year and Doncaster come to The Banks’s on the first at 3pm