Whilst we await the club to sign a centre back we felt as its Thursday the first match preview of the 2018/19 season needs writing!
The Saddlers currently have just one first team centre back at the club – Jon Guthrie. We have no idea if we will sign another before Saturday’s game so for now we look to youngster Dan Vann or the experienced Adam Chambers to play alongside him.
The Saddlers welcome new additions Zeli Ismail, Andy Cook and Josh Ginnelly, you would imagine all three of them will start on Saturday.
Long term absentees Joe Edwards (ACL) and Kory Roberts (broken leg) are missing until 2019.
The Pilgrims have added eleven new players to their squad from last season so unsurprisingly its difficult to guess what side will line up on Saturday. New centre backs (whats one of them?) Scott Wootton (previously MK Dons) and Niall Canavan (Previously Rochdale) have featured heavily during pre season but Ryan Edwards was a regular starter for Plymouth last season so we expect him to get the nod on Saturday with Joe Riley (previously Shrewsbury) slotting into right back.
Plymouth have surprisingly held onto Graham Carey over the summer and will continue to pose a real threat through the middle.
Likely Line Ups?
Walsall – L.Roberts, Devlin, Guthrie,_____, Leahy, Ismail, Dobson, Chambers, Ginnelly, Cook, Bakayoko
Plymouth – Macey, Riley, Canavan, Edwards, Ashley Smith-Brown, Fox, Ness, Grant, Carey, Lameiras, Taylor
Andy Cook (Walsall)
Cookie has already become an instant hit with the Saddlers faithful scoring three goals in his last two pre-season games.
To look at him you would not expect him to be as good with the ball at his feet but he very rarely loses it.
Throw into the fact when the ball is put onto his head it normally ends up in the back of the net – the Saddlers finally have that target man we have been after for years. Lets not forget he has finished top scorer in the last two seasons in the Conference.
Graham Carey (Plymouth)
Many will be surprised to see Carey still with Plymouth.
One Plymouth fan has described Carey has their Irish magician.
Carey has scored thirty-nine goals in his past three seasons with the Pilgrims including an eighty-seventh minute penalty in their 2-1 defeat to us last season.
The Saddlers have faced Plymouth on sixty-six occasions. Walsall 20, Draw 13, Plymouth 33.
The last time both sides met was on New Years Day where a solo goal by Ryan Taylor was enough for Plymouth to come out on top. The last time both teams faced each other at The Banks’s Stadium. the Saddlers earned bragging rights with a 2-1 victory thanks to goals from Daniel Agyei and Erhun Oztumer.
Our last five home games v Plymouth
02/09/18 – Walsall 2-1 Plymouth
21/08/10 – Walsall 2-1 Plymouth
10/08/99 – Walsall 4-1 Plymouth
21/02/98 – Walsall 0-1 Plymouth
12/11/96 – Walsall 0-1 Plymouth
Referee – Andy Haines
Linesmen – Wayne Grunnill and Christopher Ward
Fourth Official: Paul Graham
Andy Haines is no stranger to Walsall fans having officiated two games involving the Saddlers last season.
Haines from Tyne and Wear, was in charge of our 1-0 home defeat against Gillingham in November and our 1-1 draw away at Rochdale in December.
Last season Haines officiated thirty-three games, issuing ninety-nine yellow cards and six red cards. He awarded three penalties.
Given how underprepared we are for the new season you would be a fool to predict a Walsall victory. However we don’t do too badly on opening day fixtures at home and with the crowd behind the team I expect the unexpected and a Saddlers victory.
Vital Prediction – Walsall 2-1 Plymouth (Cook, Ginnelly)
Saturday 11th August
Sky Bet League 1 (3pm)
Scunthorpe v Walsall