Despite winning the second leg of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Southern Final Second Leg against Oxford United on Tuesday night, it wasn’t to be for Neil Harris’ Lions, as they were defeated 2-1 on aggregate. This Saturday, the team returns to the league, as they take on high-flying Walsall. Pete Sadler from Bescot Banter takes on ‘The View From The Opposition’ ahead of the weekends game…
Name: Pete Sadler
First Walsall game: I’m only a young’un – Brentford at home in the First Round of the cup in 2010, maybe. I know we won 1-0!
Greatest moment following Walsall: I’d have to say the run to the JPT Final last year, if you take away the non-event of the Final. In particular, the 2-0 away win at Preston North End – that was an amazing night and, to be honest, unexpected at the time.
Walsall currently sit in the top two, having lost just four games in the league all season. Whilst there seems to be a battle for the promotion spots between the top four/five, with a record like that, you must be looking to go up automatically and would be disappointed with a place in the play-offs?: I think this season has surprised most people. We have found a bit of grit to win games that we would have drawn last term. Credit for that has to go to the staff and squad that has been assembled in the last few years.
Having got where we are at the turn of the year, I suppose that it would be disappointing not to be promoted automatically, but by no means is anyone taking that for granted; nor would a play-off win be sniffed at!
On the other hand, Millwall are clinging on to the sixth spot – can you see them making the end of season lottery?: There are so many teams in the mix for the promotion race, as nobody seems to be running away with it. Everyone can (and does) beat everyone else on their given day. Millwall are no exception and if they keep their best players fit, I see no reason why they won’t be up there.
Who are Walsall’s ‘ones to watch’ on Saturday? You must have been pleased to hold on to Tom Bradshaw in the January transfer window…: Absolutely. Tom has rightfully earned his plaudits and I’m delighted he wasn’t lured away. It’s a massive signal to others in the league that Walsall Football Club is a good place to play and that people are given opportunities to showcase their talent. We have unearthed gems, previously discarded by our bigger neighbours and in Romaine Sawyers and Sam Mantom, we have legitimate match winners.
If you’re looking for an outside tip of one to watch, I’d plump for Anthony Forde, who has been excellent in recent matches and is finally showing his promise.
Are there any Millwall players that you will be wary of?: Maybe it’s my Football Manager knowledge/experience, but there are a number of Lions players which I really rate (hopefully this jinxes them in some way!). Lee Gregory is a real handful up front and Steve Morison has a wealth of experience at a higher level.
I’ve signed Fred Onyedinma a couple of times and he has done well, so it will be nice to see if he can produce again.
Finally, how do you see the game going?: I think that Sean (O’Driscoll) will make no changes from the midweek win over Doncaster Rovers, other than Neil Etheridge returning in goal, depending on his recovery from an injury sustained against Reading in the FA Cup.
Walsall are flying high and finding a way to win games in different ways. They are more successful against the top teams than those struggling and I’d back this to continue.
Score Prediction: Walsall 2-1 Millwall. Mantom and Bradshaw for Walsall, Morison for the visitors.
Pete’s Team Prediction: Etheridge/MacGillivray; Demetriou, Downing, O’Connor, Taylor; Mantom, Chambers (c); Forde, Sawyers, Lalkovic; Bradshaw.
Walsall v Millwall takes place at the Bescot Stadium on Saturday, February 6th. Kick-off is at 3pm.