FM Saddler's Managerial Journey

FMSaddler96

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FM Saddler's Managerial Journey
So after struggling with Retirement FC I am jumping straight into a new save. I thought before I started the save I would give some context to the save.

I am going to try to follow a similar sort of style to that I did with the Retirement save. It was by far my most popular story and a lot of people seemed to enjoy the layout of the save. I will do monthly updates and any other news updates that are relevant to the story as I did with Retirement.

I am also going to try add background to the character though. Throughout I will try add "personal" posts about the character FM Saddler. It will almost be a diary style update when I do these and they will pop up around key times in the story. It will add a story like side to it rather than just updates and make it more interesting to read. I think I am going to do these posts using quotes as if it is speech, it will be experimental to start until I get the right style.

I am hoping that by combining the two sides it will produce my most interesting story yet.

As always I welcome all feedback, even criticism, as you are the ones who read the story and I want to improve it in any way possible.

I hope you enjoy the story!



 

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BREAKING NEWS: Saddler's Appoint Saddler!
July 1st 2015

Walsall FC are pleased to announce the signing of former coach FM Saddler as manager. The 20 year old has been appointed on a 1 year deal following the departure of Dean Smith who left for Championship side Brentford.

The Saddler's are looking forwards to moving forward under Saddler and are looking forward to the season ahead under the rookie manager. We decided to take the chance on the youngster following recommendations from many of the coaching staff including assistant manager John Whitney.

The club believe he is the right man to lead us to success and following the trip to Wembley under Smith last year we believe this is a club on the up and that the fresh injection of young enthusiasm is the right decision in moving the club into further success.

The new manager has arranged an open door, free entry friendly against our Under 21 side for tomorrow evening at the Bescot Stadium following his appointment. All are welcome to come and see the rookie manager take charge of his first game.

 

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Who is FM Saddler?
This morning Walsall FC announced the appointment of 20 year old FM Saddler who becomes the youngest ever manager in the top 4 tiers of English football. But who is the unknown rookie?

Saddler has been working for the club for 3 years after being brought in to work behind, now assistant manager, John Whitney who he knows through family friends. Whitney brought in the then 17 year old claiming he had a passion for the game of football and passion for the club he had supported all his life.

Having started off as an assistant to Whitney his only role was to sort equipment but the youngster impressed with his knowledge and was eventually moved into a junior coaching role.

In his junior coaching role he coached all levels under 16 at the club and provided the future players of the club with what under 21 coach John Ward described as "top level coaching". The club realised Saddler's potential and helped him train for his Continental B license over the last 3 years.

At just 19 years old Saddler was promoted into the role of Under 18's manager where he impressed and helped to develop the likes of Rico Henry, Liam Kinsella, Matt Preston and Reece Flanagan; despite being a similar age to the now senior squad players.

With a season of success under his belt at the under 18 level Whitney and Ward both recommended the club move him into the managerial role upon the departure of Dean Smith. Both explained how Saddler coaches "way beyond his years" and has a footballing and tactical knowledge above any coaches at the club.

Many question the newly appointed managers playing experience with him only ever having played Sunday League football. The 20 year old still played up until his appointment and what many don't know is the youngster was scouted by many clubs when he was around 13 years old including premier league clubs such as Everton, Stoke and Aston Villa.

 

FMSaddler96

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What am I doing?! I can't be a manager I'm 20 years old!

Wait... calm down...

I can do this. I've worked my way up and I have the backing of everyone at the club. I have a good training and have good coaching staff around me. I know how the club works and I know what needs improving and doing to move forward.

I can't let the people down who gave me this opportunity. Whitney started this all off for me 3 years ago and he recommended me for the role so I have to do my best to impress him at least. I can't make those around me look bad.

Being a manager can't be that bad though... can it? I know my players, tactics, training and the league. I know everything there is to know on football, why can't I be successful?!
 

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Four Done Deals
July 11th 2015

The Saddler's are pleased to announced 4 done deals today in regards to players.

Firstly is the signing of 36 year old Hayden Mullins on a 1 year deal. The experienced defender joins the Saddler's for the season having been released from Notts County but Saddler believes his premier league experience will be key to the season as he can provide a sensible head as a squad player.

Their is also news in terms of 3 contract renewals. Jason Demetriou who has just signed a 1 year deal having signed on July 1st has had his contract extended already by Saddler in a deal that will keep the defender at the club till 2018. The right back will be on £1600 per week and also has a £2m release clause to higher division teams.

The second contract renewal is of defender Paul Downing. The 23 year old, now entering his 4th year with the Saddlers, has signed a deal that will keep him at the Bescot until June 2018. The defender has been key in the last 3 seasons having played 110 league games and scoring 3 goals. Saddler once again marked this as an important deal saying he is key to keeping a strong back 4.

The final contract extension is to midfielder Sam Mantom who has signed a deal keeping him here until 2018. Now entering his 5th year at the Bescot Mantom has played less of a role than Downing having had multiple injury troubles over the last 3 seasons. His best season came in 2013/14 when the midfielder made 43 league appearances scoring 5 goals.

Saddler has said the following on all these deals:

"Hayden Mullins is a signing I wanted to get done quickly. I remember watching him play for West Ham and Portsmouth in the premier league and I believe he can still be a good asset to a league 1 club.

The 3 contract extensions are also key. Having supported this club since I was a kid I remember the likes of Scott Dann leaving on free transfers because their contracts came to an end. I want to make sure key players are on long term contracts and I will work throughout the season to keep players who can contribute at the club.

Downing and Demetriou can both be a part of a strong back 4 along with Rico and O'Connor and Mantom can be key for us in the middle of the park. I saw no problem with handing out these deals having the money from Wembley in the budget helping to complete these deals.

I am looking to add further signings. We will be looking at freebies and loan deals and are currently looking for a senior affiliate to loan players from. We missed out on one signing which I was disappointed about but there are plenty more options out there."


 

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Pre-Season Round Up
August 3rd 2015

Following yesterday's final pre-season fixture we look back at how the Saddler's faired in pre-season under FM Saddler. With just 5 days before the opener against Oldham it's a chance to see how the team may be feeling heading into the league campaign.

Walsall 4-2 Walsall U21's

A fantastic start for Saddler who arranged the free entry match at the Bescot for all fans to come watch. It was an entertaining game with the Under 21's showing how bright the future of the Saddler's is. 11 minutes in Bradshaw made it 1-0 before Kouhyar and Pooni made it 2-1 to the Under 21's.

It took 11 minutes for the senior squad to equalise with Lalkovic meeting Forde's cross at the back post to smash home. Bradshaw then made it 3-2 with 7 minutes left in the first half on his way to MOTM. A completely different second half 11 saw the Saddler's take control of the game and Jordan Murphy sealed the result just before the hour mark.

Portsmouth 2-0 Walsall

A disappointing result as a late Matt Tubbs brace against the second 11 gave league 2 Pompey a 2-0 victory. However the result was put to the back of fans minds as Bradshaw went down early on injured. After the game it was revealed the striker could be out for up to 2 months which could see him miss out on the opening of the season.

Walsall 3-0 Sporting Khalsa

It was a first half master class as the Saddler's went into the break 3-0 up allowing the second 11 to control the game. Lalkovic continued his fine pre-season form scoring twice in the opening 45 minutes with Sawyers adding the 3rd in between Milan's brace.

Walsall 1-1 Hearts

Probably the most challenging fixture of the pre-season lineup as Scottish side Hearts visited. It was a back and forth first half with both sides having their fair share of chances. The second half saw a more exciting game in front of goal though. Hearts went 1-0 up early on before both sides had chance after chance with the Saddler's hitting the post 3 times in a 5 minute period. Levi Rowley got the equaliser late on hitting a fantastic strike from the edge of the area to seal a draw.

Forest Green 1-5 Walsall

The first half was a very equal affair which was disappointing with the starting 11 out on the pitch baring the injured players. Forest Green went 1-0 up after just 4 minutes on the clock but it took just 5 minutes for Bakayoko, off the bench, to equalise. The second half saw the Saddler's second 11 dominate the game though with Murphy and Morris adding goals before Cook got a brace with goals in the 90th and 91st minute to make it 5-1.

Boston United 0-1 Walsall

Saddler opted to play the game like a real competitive fixture. His available first 11 were backed up by 7 substitutes with only 3 subs being made before the 87th minute. It was Lalkovic who made his final mark on pre-season with the only goal of the game scrapping in a loose ball to earn the win in the 6th minute.


 

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August Preview

As we look ahead to the opening game of the season against Oldham on Saturday we are previewing the next month of competitive games. The Saddler's will play 6 games in all competitions this month including a league cup tie against Barnsley.

Oldham (H) SBL1
Expected to struggle this season Oldham will be looking for a quick start to prove people wrong but it is expected that the Saddler'***** the ground running and grab all 3 points. With Bradshaw and Demetriou's fitness under question after pre-season injuries it will be interesting to see whether Saddler risks them.

Barnsley (H) COC
A tough league cup tier as Barnsley will be looking to advance past the first round. The tykes are expected to be in and around the play-off's this year so it will be a tough game for both sides but also an interesting game for spectators.

Southend (A) SBL1
First away game of the season for the Saddlers and it will be against new league 1 side Southend. The Shrimpers are an unknown quantity heading into the season but the media sees them being in a relegation battle. With key players such as Daniel Bentley it will be a tough fixture for the Saddler's but they should still be looking to win.

Rochdale (A) SBL1
Another tough game for the Saddlers against another team who many don't know what to expect from. The Dale will be looking to improve on previous seasons after finishing 8th last year but the media tip them to be struggling at the other end of the table.

Coventry (H) SBL1
The first derby of the season in the M6 El Clasico. Coventry will be looking to fight for promotion this year and have a squad capable of doing so. The winner of the game will take all bragging rights but many can see the game ending in a draw.

Blackpool (A) SBL1
A trip to the seaside to end summer for the Saddlers. Blackpool are expected to struggle after coming down from the Championship due to the problems caused by owner Karl Oyston. With distractions around the club Walsall will look to walk away with all 3 points and round of a strong opening month.



 

FMSaddler96

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I'm happy with how pre-season went. We did well and got fitness up. I'm disappointed about the two big injuries but we have a squad with players who can replace those who are injured. I'm also happy that we got contracts sorted out for 4 key players. Demetriou and Downing will be key defensively whilst Mantom and Sawyers will be key to controlling games in midfield.

Pressure is on for Saturday and I don't know how I am going to do in the game. Honestly I know we should be winning but I'll take a draw. Oldham are a good side and I'm not certain they will be in a relegation battle like they are expected to be.

Honestly from this month I just want to get through with a couple of wins, couple of draws in the league and advance in the league cup. I don't see why we can't beat Barnsley and I know we can beat Coventry in the big game of the month.

It's going to be a tough start but I know with the additions I've made and the squad I have there is no reason we can't succeed.
 

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Johnstone's Paint Trophy Draw
August 8th 2015

Walsall have this afternoon been drawn against league 1 side Scunthorpe in the Northern First Round. The game will be played at the Bescot Stadium on the 1st September.

The full northern draw can be seen below:
Bradford v Burton
Fleetwood v Blackpool
Doncaster v Oldham
Walsall v Scunthorpe
Crewe v Carlisle
Chesterfield v Notts County
Wigan v Shrewsbury
Morecambe v Rochdale

 

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August Results

It was a mixed first month for FM Saddler and the Saddlers. 6 games were played and it produced a mixed bag of results as the rookie manager tried to confirm his style and tactics moving forward into his first month of competitive games.

Walsall 2-0 Oldham (SBL1)

A fantastic start to the season for the reds with Tom Bradshaw proving the key man at the Bescot. A very good back 4 were the building blocks for the win getting the ball out quickly and allowing Bradshaw to find space on the counter for 2 fantastic finishes.

Walsall 0-3 Barnsley (COC)

After a fantastic first result Saddler played the same style of football but Barnsley countered it perfectly. A goal from Marley Watkins seconds before half time took the game out of Walsall's hands and then just a minute after the break Sam Winnall made it 2-0. The Saddler's tried fighting back but Barnsley got a 3rd to put the game to bed in the 77th minute courtesy of Isgrove.

Southend 1-1 Walsall (SBL1)

In form Jamar Loza denied the Saddler's all 3 points after Bradshaw made it 3 goals in 2 league games. After 15 minutes Bradshaw was played through by Sawyers and he slotted home. Loza scored an identical goal though after the half hour mark. Both sides looked to get the win in the second half but neither could create the deadly chance.

Rochdale 0-2 Walsall (SBL1)

With Bradshaw out injured Walsall brought in Seager to replace him and it paid off early on with the striker linking well with Sawyers consistently. However it wasn't till the 60th minute when Seager opened the scoring with a tidy finish. Anthony Forde then made it 2-0 just 11 minutes later to seal the result.

Walsall 0-1 Coventry (SBL1)

The first M6 El Clasico of the season and it wasn't one to remember for the Saddler's. Both sides were nervous early on and it wasn't till a 31st minute corner that was headed home by Hunt. The Saddler's were the better team from then on but Coventry just sat back and managed to keep the lead as they start their early good form.

Blackpool 1-3 Walsall (SBL1)

It didn't look good early on for the Saddler's in their seaside trip as Paul Downing gave away a penalty which Paterson converted. However the Saddler's controlled the game in both possession and momentum for the remaining 86 minutes. Bradshaw returned from injury in style though scoring in the 41st minute. It was then the substitutions which changed the game with Morris coming on to add two goals in the 52nd and 76th minute to win the game.

Table
PositionTeamPlayedWonDrawnLostGDPoints
1stShrewsbury5410413
2ndCoventry5320811
3rdWalsall5311510
4thPeterborough5311310
5thBradford City523049
 

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August News Round-Up
We take a look back at some of the biggest headlines from August from around the Bescot Stadium...

Players Go Out On Loan
Many players went out on loan this season including Levi Rowley (Stockport), Amadou Bakayoko (Grimsby), Kyle Rowley (Stockport), Liam Roberts (Chester), Korey Roberts (Wealdstone). There have also been interest in a few other youngsters with loan deals looking to be completed soon.

Players Extend Contracts
A couple of pieces of contract news for the month as Romaine Sawyers signed a new 3 year deal on August 4th before Tom Bradshaw signed a new 3 year deal on August 13th.

Saddler's Sign Twardzik
24 year old goalkeeper Dan Twardzik signed a 1 year deal at the Bescot as a backup keeper. FM Saddler talks about him in high regards and says he will be another keeper in a 3 way battle for starter. The Saddler's offered him out for loan but couldn't find a destination.

Two Games Postponed
The Scunthorpe JPT game was postponed to the 15th September as well as a league game against Bury being moved to the 22nd. This is down to the Saddler's having 6 players called up to international duty.

Six Players Called Up
Rico Henry received his first England U19 call up whilst Sawyers was recalled to St Kitts & Nevis. Goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was called up to the Phillipines squad. Loanee Jordan Williams will appear for the Wales U21 side. Key players Jason Demetriou and Tom Bradshaw were called up for Cyprus and Wales respectively.
 

FMSaddler96

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All in all it was a good month. The Barnsley and Coventry results were disappointing but we still sit 3rd in the league. The form of a few players has been fantastic. Bradshaw, Rico and Demetriou have all been fantastic and that should carry on.

Moving forward I expect a good month. Players going away on international duty is a bit worrying in case we pick up any injuries, especially after getting all but Osbourne back fit in the squad.

Tactically I'm finding my way. I started with the attacking 4-2-3-1 but it wasn't always reliable so decided to make it so I decide as we go into games. Starting with that formation I go in with no instructions and just wait for the game to unfold and it has done okay so far.

My big worry at the moment is how long we can go without players causing trouble. I've done well to rotate the team so far but as players start to get in form and others start to struggle it's becoming clear I am going to have a few players asking for more game time.

I've tried sending out Twardzik, Preston and Kinsella on loan but no players currently want them on loan. For league 2 I thought they would all be good options but nobody sees them as a viable option (despite being offered them all for free.
 

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September Preview
6 games await the Saddler's in September and it could be a big month. If the Saddler's can continue their good start they could pull away from the pack at the top of the league.

Doncaster (H) SBL1

12th placed Doncaster are the first opposition of the month after the postponements of the Scunthorpe and Bury games. Doncaster have been pretty average throughout the opening month and haven't really seen any form string together so the Saddler's will look to get 3 points.

Scunthorpe (H) JPT

Another midtable league 1 side visit the Bescot but this time round it is for the JPT. Cup games throw out form meaning both sides will be looking for the win. The Saddler's will be favourites for the game but Scunthorpe will look to advance in the JPT after a mixed start to the season.

Peterborough (A) SBL1

4th placed Peterborough have started well and will be looking to continue their good start. The Saddler's are likely to be second favourites for the game as they travel to London Road for the game. Both sides will be looking for 3 points but the Saddler's will probably be happy with a draw.

Bury (H) SBL1

Bury have struggled early on and see themselves in 17th place going into September. The Saddler's will be looking for all 3 points at the Bescot and it's what is to be expected against the Lancashire club.

Crewe (H) SBL1
Crewe currently sit in 23rd and have been poor to start the season with just 2 draws from their opening 5 games. With a bit of rivalry behind the tie it could be anyones game but the Saddler's are expected to get all 3 points against a team expected to be in a relegation battle all season.

Scunthorpe (A) SBL1
A second game of the month against Scunthorpe and it is one that will likely be affected by the JPT tie. With the winner of the cup tie having the mental edge it could affect this league game but the Saddler's will either be looking for a win or a strong away tie.

 

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September Results

6 more games were played in September and the Saddler's looked to continue their fine form to begin the season. It wasn't an easy month of fixtures though with the month seeing oppositions find form and hit their stride.

Walsall 3-1 Doncaster (SBL1)


So it was a happy return from international break with the Saddler's beating Donny 3-1. It took 24 minutes for the Saddler's to take the lead as O'Connor headed home from a corner. 5 minutes later Songo'o equalised for Doncaster heading home a well taken free kick but then just 2 minutes later Sawyers finished fantastically to make it 2-1. The game settled from there with the Saddler's controlling possession before Seager added the 3rd early in the second half.

Walsall 1-1 Scunthorpe (JPT)- Scunthorpe win 4-1 on penalties


It was a tough result to take for the Saddler's as they dominated the game. Scunthorpe were always chasing the game but somehow took a 1-0 lead through Hopper in the 60th minute. 19 minutes later Romaine Sawyers won and scored a penalty to equalise. However the Saddler's failed to convert their first 3 spot kicks before Scunthorpe scored their 4th to seal the win.

Peterborough 1-0 Walsall (SBL1)


Another tough result to take as a rotated 11 without Tom Bradshaw (who had also missed the previous game) dominated the game but struggled to convert chances. Peterborough only really had 1 clear cut chance and it was Zakuani who headed home a corner in the 12th minute to win the game.

Walsall 1-0 Bury (SBL1)


The game in hand for the Saddler's saw them hit the top of the table. Bradshaw returned to the starting line up after getting injured early on against Doncaster and he marked his return with a goal scoring the winner in the 43rd minute. The Saddler's controlled the second half to take all 3 points and go top.

Walsall 2-1 Crewe (SBL1)


A big win for the Saddler's and the fans as they remain top of the league but also beat rivals Crewe. The Saddler's dominated the full 90 minutes but it was Tom Bradshaw yet again in the 42nd minute to give the Saddler's a 1-0 win going into the break. The second half saw an equally strong performance and Paul Downing made it 2-0 volleying home a loose ball from a corner. Dalla Valle got a consolation goal for Crewe in the 88th minute but the Saddler's never looked like losing the lead.

Scunthorpe 0-0 Walsall (SBL1)


With fitness low after 4 games in 2 weeks the Saddler's faced 2nd placed Scunthorpe. The Iron were looking to replicate the JPT result whilst the Saddler's looked to get a point and stay in the top 2. Scunthorpe dominated the 90 minutes but it was the Saddler's who came closest with Forde hitting the post late on. The bad news was that Bradshaw will miss 2 weeks after getting a gash in his leg.

Table

PositionTeamPlayedWonDrawnLostGDPoints
1stChesterfield10622820
2ndWalsall10622820
3rdShrewsbury10541419
4thScunthorpe10541419
5thSouthend10532418
 

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September News Round Up

Loan Repayments Begin
The board have begin to repay 4 different loans in an attempt to work their way out of the loan debt and move forward.

Bradshaw's International Debut
The Wales striker continued his fine form as he won man of the match and scored an international brace in order to earn Wales a win.

More Loan Moves
Rory Oliver has moved to Corby on loan for a month (which was later extended a further 4 months) whilst Jamie Smith moved to Gainsborough on loan for 1 month. 19 year old Liam Kinsella moved on loan to Cambridge in league 2 for a month. The Saddler's also rejected loan moves for Reece Flanagan and Kieron Morris with Saddler saying both are important first team players.

Bradshaw Injury Woes Continue
Top goalscorer for both the Saddler's and in the league was injured in the second Scunthorpe game and will be out for up to 2 weeks with a gashed leg. This is the strikers 4th injury since the beginning of pre-season.

Burton's Goal Struggles
Burton have set a record for going 6 games on the bounce without scoring. The 16th placed side have recorded 5 0-0 draws on the bounce on the back of a 1-0 loss to 3rd place Shrewsbury. They did score 3 though in a 3-0 win against Bradford in the JPT.
 

FMSaddler96

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It was another good month. Sitting 2nd isn't bad considering I've never managed before and the squad seem to be happy with the rotation. I'm worried about Bradshaw's injury struggles as he has scored almost half of our league goals.

I'm also happy with all the loan moves. We currently have 9 players out on loan. Bakayoko is impressing at Grimsby with 4 goals in 7 games. Liam Kinsella has also been fantastic in his first two starts for Cambridge. The best performer out on loan though is Levi Rowley who has 5 goals in 12 games from central midfield for Stockport.

We have a mixed set of games next month. I'm not looking forward to playing Wigan who I still think will get promoted. I also don't look forward to the top 2 clash against Chesterfield as we seem to be perfectly matched for eachother. We also have a game against Barnsley which after the league cup loss I'm not too excited for.
 

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Thanks, I have considered it but finding it easier to lay the story out like this for now. Might use pictures in the future but at the moment it's simpler to do it with tables and with my last story people liked that layout.
 

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View attachment 135392
October Preview

Another month of 6 games are coming up and the Saddler's will look to define themselves as one of the leading teams in the league with another good month of results.

Wigan (A) SBL1

11th place Wigan have underperformed so far this season but still have the quality to turn things around. Saddler emphasised the importance of estimating a team on their quality and not league position and has said that it will be a tough game to begin October.

Burton (H) SBL1

16th placed Burton have gone 6 league games without scoring but 5 games on the bounce having drawn 0-0. Having conceded just 1 goal in their previous 7 games in all competitions they are proving to be a tough team to break down. The Saddler's should expect a win from this tie but will have to break down a stubborn back line to do so.

Chesterfield (H) SBL1

Currently looking to be a top of the table clash the Saddler's will look to use their home advantage to beat the Spirites. Chesterfield have the best attack in the league having scored 17 goals so far (Walsall have 14) but the Saddler's have a better defence (ranked 2nd in the league) having conceded just 6 times this season (Chesterfield 9).

Barnsley (A) SBL1

A chance for revenge as the Saddler's travel to Oakwell in an attempt to get payback for the 3-0 loss they received at the Bescot in the league cup. Barnsley currently sit 12th and have been inconsistent. After winning their first 4 fixtures they have gone on to win just 1 in 8. The potential for goals is their though, as proven in a 6-5 loss to Rochdale.

Colchester (A) SBL1

23rd place Colchester have struggled to get going this season and the Saddler's will look to make the most of playing them later this month. The U's have one of the worst defences in the league and the Saddler's front line should be able to make the most of this and come away with all 3 points.

Gillingham (H) SBL1

The Saddler's end the month by hosting 18th place Gillingham. The visitors have failed to hit expectations and will look to get anything they can from the trip to the Bescot. Walsall will look to attack from the get go and round the month off with a win.

 

FMSaddler96

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As always any feedback is appreciated. Would love to hear from people on how they think it's going, questions, criticisms, suggestions. Anything at all really. Enjoying this story as much as the last one and it seems to be going better but getting less feedback.
 
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