Match Preview: Walsall v Hartlepool United Match Preview: Walsall v Hartlepool United

Match Preview: Walsall v Hartlepool United

Here we take a look ahead to the Saddlers' season-opener against Hartlepool United.
Don't forget to join us across our social media channels where we'll bring you all the matchday build-up, in-game updates, and post-match reaction as the Saddlers return to action.

After a summer of change which saw surprise arrivals, welcome departures and a whole host of other ups and downs, we're just over a day away from kicking off the Saddlers' 2022/23 Sky Bet League Two campaign.

With an almost completely rebuilt squad and a revitalised fanbase slowly getting used to each other, the coming campaign could see the club finally make some headway in its search for promotion.

Of course, we've yet to see the team kick a ball in competitive anger and should resist the urge to put the cart before the horse, especially when that horse is more than happy to sit in the stalls whilst its opponents bound towards the finish line.

However, the summer of change has given us plenty of reasons to be cheerful, not least the arrival of the Trivela Group, who have already been able to bring the fans and club closer together, and that's before we've really touched the surface of the many possibilities of what the club is capable of.

A win in this weekend's meeting with Hartlepool United will not see the team win the title but will go a long way to showing how successful the new line-up can be, with a refreshed backline, manipulated midfield and almost completely rebuilt attack, we're excited to see what will come of the team, but can't help but feel a little nervous at the same time.

The Saddlers have several injuries to contend with as the likes of Joss Labadie, Oisin McEntee, Joe Riley and Conor Wilkinson currently occupying the medical room.

Head Coach Michael Flynn will be looking to begin the season in positive fashion, however, with a large number of changes to his squad, may well settle for a draw as there are plenty of games ahead.

After securing a 17th-placed finish in 2021/22 opponents Hartlepool will be looking to secure a top-half finish in their second season back in the EFL, and after strengthening positions across the team, will believe they have all the tools to make that a possibility.

Walsall and Hartlepool have met on fifty-five previous occasions, and it's the Saddlers who hold a minor Head-to-Head advantage having won nineteen times compared to the Pools' eighteen.

There have also been eighteen draws over the history of the fixture, a history which began at Fellows Park on Saturday, 22nd October 1921 as the sides met in a Division Three (North) clash which Walsall won by three-goals-to-one.

The EFL has confirmed that Lee Swabey, who is based in Devon, will be the man in the middle, whilst Andy Bennett and Alex Gray have been named assistant referees. James Vallance will act as Fourth Official.

As there haven't been any competitive games so far this season, we'll take a look at how the referee fared last season, and it wasn't a bad spell of the man in the middle as he handed out sixty-six yellow cards over the course of twenty-seven games, significantly less than many of his colleagues.

If you're not planning on going to the game you can catch the match via the club's in-house service - iFollow Walsall - which takes you through the highs and lows of every Saddlers game.

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