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Match Previews

MATCH PREVIEW: Walsall vs Swindon Town

Swindon braced for third meeting of the season with Saddlers…

14 March 2023

Match Previews

MATCH PREVIEW: Walsall vs Swindon Town

Swindon braced for third meeting of the season with Saddlers…

14 March 2023

Swindon Town head to the Poundland Bescot Stadium this evening as they prepare to take on Walsall in their re-arranged League Two clash.

After defeats to The Saddlers in the Carabao Cup and at the County Ground earlier this term in the league, Jody Morris takes his charges to the West Midlands looking to bounce back from their late defeat at home to Carlisle at the weekend.

Here’s some background information on our opponents ahead of tonight’s showdown.

The lowdown…

The club was established in 1888 as Walsall Town Swifts, and eight years later, they changed their name to Walsall FC.

In 1896, The Saddlers finished sixth in the Second Division, which is their highest ever league finish to date.

Since joining the Third Division North in 1921, they’ve remained an ever present in the EFL, and the year 1960 brought Walsall their first league title in 72 years.

They won promotion out of the Fourth Division in 1979/80, but suffered successive relegations after going up to the second tier at the end of 1987/88.

Promoted in 1994/95 and again in 1998/99, they went on to spend four of the next five seasons in the Second Division, punctuated by a successful third tier promotion campaign in 2000/01.

However, two demotions in three years left Walsall back in the fourth tier in 2006, but they bounced back immediately as 2006/07 League Two champions.

Their first Wembley appearance came in the 2015 Football League Trophy Final, which they lost to Bristol City.

In 2016, they narrowly missed out on promotion to the Championship by a single point, and lost the resulting play-off semi-final to Barnsley.

The Saddlers then ended an eleven year stay in League One with relegation in 2019.

DID YOU KNOW?: Walsall hold the distinction of being founding members of both the second, third, and fourth tiers.

The manager: Michael Flynn…

The 42-year-old Welshman began his playing career with Newport County, turning professional with Barry Town before breaking out with Championship side Gillingham.

He went on to appear more than 90 times for Bradford City before returning to Newport and playing while obtaining his UEFA Pro Licence.

On the managerial front, he became caretaker boss at Newport in 2017 while the club were embroiled in a relegation battle.

After the clubs ‘Great Escape’, The Exiles won some memorable FA Cup fixtures against Leeds, Leicester and Middlesbrough.

Flynn’s success wasn’t over just yet though, as he led the Welsh side to the 2019 EFL League Two Play-off Final against Tranmere Rovers, followed by further cup adventures against the likes of Spurs, Manchester City and West Ham.

In February last year, Flynn was appointed Walsall boss, signing a contract until 2024 and taking over when the club were eighteenth in the table last term, eventually recording a sixteenth place finish.

This season has seen improvements on the last, with Flynn awarded League Two Manager of the Month Award for October.

Walsall’s season so far…

Walsall currently occupy fourteenth place in the league table and are currently experiencing another tough spell of form, similar to that they recorded when the season began.

They’re without a win in their last 12 in all competitions, recording six straight league draws during February which has seen their hopes of a play-off push take a setback.

A 3-1 away loss to Stevenage at the weekend puts a bit of pressure on The Saddlers to reverse the current rot.

All in all they’ve had a very strange campaign so far with indifferent form.

After recovering from a slow start that included a 12-game run without a win in all competitions, they turned things around in style, losing just three times in the 17 matches that followed, winning 11 of them.

A great run in the FA Cup has also helped restore confidence among Walsall fans with their journey into the fourth round earning them a home tie against Premier League side, Leicester City.

But it’s been downhill since then, and they’re without a victory of any kind since beating Stockport County 1-0 away in the FA Cup back in early January.

Previous meetings…

It’s Walsall that have bragging rights this season when it comes to the two games we’ve played against them so far this term.

The Saddlers defeated a much-changed Town side 2-0 to win the Carabao Cup First Round clash at The Bescot back in August.

Then, just last month, Mike Flynn’s side emerged with all three points from SN1, as they came from behind to win 2-1 in the first of our League Two double-header.

Prior to this, the form guide was very much in Swindon’s favour, winning four of the previous five meetings.

Three wins for The Robins came last season as the pair squared up twice in the league and once in the FA Cup.

The cup tie at The Bescot finished 2-1 to Town, thanks to goals from loanees Tyreece Simpson and Kaine Kessler-Hayden.

Then came one of Swindon’s biggest results of the 2021/22 campaign as they hit Walsall for five without reply in the first league meeting of that season back in February.

Jonny Williams rounded off the scoring on that day after Louie Barry and Ricky Aguiar had helped themselves to braces.

Town were in a similar unforgiving mood in the away tie which took place in May that campaign.

Harry McKirdy scored an early goal to settle any nerves, which was followed up by a further two from Jack Payne to rack up an impressive aggregate score line.

Before that, the pair met just once in 2019/2020 as COVID disrupted the season.

Town won on that day too in November 2019, with Eoin Doyle and Diallang Jaiyesimi getting on the scoresheet, with Rory Gaffney’s consolation resulting in a 2-1 win for The Robins.

Players to watch…

Isaac Hutchinson has the most assists for Walsall with six in the league and has scored four times on top of that.

He’s been relied upon heavily to create attacking moves and opportunities in an attempt to reduce the impact of Danny Johnson’s departure back to his parent club Mansfield in January.

Forward Jamille Matt has come in but is yet to find the net for his new side since joining from Forest Green Rovers.

Danny Cashman has weighed in with some important performances this term, and Tom Knowles is a key figure in Mike Flynn’s armoury.

The winger has notched four goals and the same amount of assists this term.

Meanwhile, Donervon Daniels has been an ever-present fixture in the centre of Walsall’s defence alongside Emmanuel Monthe, who together form a strong backline.

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