The Saddlers start this week of local derbies with a home encounter against league 2 outfit Port Vale.
After a rather lackluster performance against Carlisle United on Saturday, which followed the defeat to Orient, it is vital Walsall get back to winning ways, with the ‘big’ Shrewsbury Town game quickly approaching. The big question being asked before this one is how seriously will Dean Smith treat it? He may see it as a possibility to test out some new blood, such as Benning, Downing or George, but at the same time a defeat would mean 3 defeats in a week and that’s the last thing we need now.
Port Vale themselves are proving to be a formidable force in the N’Power League Two this season. They currently sit second and have only failed to win in four league games, one of which was a defeat to top of the league Gillingham. They have also scored 3 or more goals in 5 games this season, and Pope has already bagged 11 league goals. Away from home they have been especially good, winning 5 of their 6 games, scoring 14 and only conceding 6. They will be no means be an easy challenge.
The Saddlers have dominated our past encounters against Vale. Losing just 14 of the 68 games when the teams have met, we have gone on to win 32 and draw 22. However, since the year 2000 we have been less dominant, winning 4, losing 2 and drawing 3 of the games when we’ve met the Vale.
All in all, this game is no longer classed as a big local derby for us, but still, we never like to lose to Port Vale, and we hope not to be disappointed come Tuesday evening.
Prediction: Walsall 1 Port Vale 1 (Walsall to win on penalties)
By: Sam Wright