On Tuesday, Walsall registered their first point of the season. It could have been three, however a late equaliser saw Walsall drop two points. With tough games against Stevenage and Bradford on the horizon, a good performance against Hartlepool will give the team a well needed boost.
Hartlepool have enjoyed a modest start to life back in the EFL. After a good opening day win to Crawley, they suffered a narrow 3-2 defeat to Barrow. They have only played two league games, after their clash with Harrogate was postponed due to Covid. They will be feeling fresh for the clash, and up for a victory against a Walsall side that have not hit the ground running.
Pool have two ex-Saddlers in their ranks, and the fans will be hoping they don’t come back to hurt Walsall. Gary Liddle did not have the best of times with Walsall, however he has found his feet again in County Durham, and looks a much more consistent performer. The other ex-Saddler is Nicky Featherstone, who left on much better terms than his current team-mate. Featherstone played a part in helping improve Walsall’s fortunes in the Dean Smith era. He will be given a warm reception by the travelling fans.
Up top, Hartlepool have three players all off the mark, Gavan Holohan and loanees Will Goodwin and Tyler Burey. Throughout the team, Hartlepool have added EFL experienced players such as keeper, Jonathan Mitchell, and striker Mark Cullen.
It has been a slower start than everyone would have wanted for the Saddlers. However getting a first point against Scunthorpe will be a boost for the team. Keiran Phillips is also off the mark, which will do well for his confidence.
Defensively, Walsall looked much better against Scunthorpe. Menayese has formed a partnership with Ash Taylor that will likely see Monthe continue on the bench. Hayden White had a good return to action, and will be hoping he has done enough to keep his starting place. In midfield, Perry and Kinsella looked a good partnership, as they did last season, however if Labadie is fit, he would be expecting to play.
The Saddlers big concern is going forward. With Holden continuing to remain on the sidelines, and Shade missing on Tuesday, it left only Osadebe as an attacking option on the bench. This highlights the need for attacking reinforcements, something the club are actively pursuing.
Walsall need a win to really start their season. It will be a close game, however both defences can concede. A win, by any means necessary is something they Saddlers will be after.
A tight affair, which sees the Saddlers win 2-1, with goals by Wilkinson and Phillips.