We look ahead to the club's second home fixture in four days

Sky Bet League One
MEMS Priestfield Stadium
Sunday December 29
Kick-Off, 3pm

Team News:

Peter Taylor could welcome back Chris Whelpdale (foot) and Amine Linganzi (calf) for the visit of Walsall.

Both midfielders didn’t make the squad for the Boxing Day fixture, but could make the bench for the club’s second home game in four days.

Danny Kedwell (hernia) is likely to make an appearance from the subs bench, while Danny Hollands (knee) will not be ready until at least the Stevenage game on New Years’ Day.

Myles Weston is unlikely to feature until the Wolves game at the very earliest due to the hamstring strain picked up at Tranmere.

As for Walsall they have no fresh injury or suspension concerns ahead of their trip to Priestfield. Midfielder Adam Chambers may return however after serving his suspension.

Manager Comments:

Peter was disappointed to see his team concede a late goal against Leyton Orient, and knows Walsall are likely to pose a similar threat.

He said: “They are a good young team and like to play from the back – everybody now has a lot of matches with not a lot of rest so you need to make sure you listen to the fitness coaches and see what is best for them.”

Dean Smith was equally disappointed to lose 1-0 at the hands of Bristol City on Boxing Day and is looking for a response from his squad as they take on the Gills.

He said: "We won't dwell on it and one thing I can say about my players is that when they have a setback they tend to bounce back quickly, so I shall be expecting a positive response in our next game at Gillingham."

The Gaffer – Dean Smith

Smith was appointed as Saddlers Manager, initially as Caretaker boss, in January 2011 before an impressive stint saw him take charge until the end of the season.

He stayed on for the 11/12 season, again saving the club from relegation as they finished 19th in League One with 50 points. They surpassed all expectations last season by finishing 9th.

Dean began his playing career at the Bescot Stadium in 1989 and played in over 140 league games before signing for Hereford in 1994.

A six year stint at Leyton Orient followed, featuring over 200 times for the club before shorter stints at Sheffield Wednesday and Yeovil brought to an end his playing career.

He turned his attentions to management and got his chance at one of his former clubs Leyton Orient when he was made Youth Coach in 2005. He was promoted to the Assistant Manager role soon after, but in 2009 left the club along with, then Manager, Martin Ling.

Six months later he joined Walsall as Head of Youth, being in the job less than two years before taking the hot seat.

The Skipper – Andy Butler

The 30-year-old centre back is in his third season with the club and, to date, has featured in over 100 league games for the club.

He scored the winner in a 1-0 victory at Molineux in September, before being sent off a couple of weeks later in a game against Leyton Orient at the Matchroom Stadium.

Beginning his career at Scunthorpe he quickly established himself as a first team regular, but in 2006 was sent on loan to Grimsby where he played five times.

He joined Huddersfield in 2008, but after another loan spell at Blackpool, he joined the Saddlers in the summer of 2010.

One to Watch - Craig Westcarr

The striker isn’t just the club’s top goal scorer this season; he has also set up more goals than anybody else for the Saddlers this season.

Craig came through the ranks at Nottingham Forest, but after loan stints at Lincoln and MK Dons he joined Cambridge in 2005 where he would spend a year before signing for Kettering.

Notts County signed the forward in 2009 and Westcarr spent two seasons at Meadow Lane prior to joining Chesterfield. An initial loan spell at Walsall saw him sign for the club permanently in January.

He has scored 10 goals so far in all competitions this season.

Walsall – the season so far

The Saddlers had a mixed start to their season, winning their first three matches in all competitions before then going five matches without a victory.

They went through the month of September unbeaten, but lost to Bradford and Coventry in two of their league games during October.

Ahead of their trip to Priestfield they have lost four of their last 10 outings, including the Boxing Day fixture away at Bristol City after a 1-0 loss.

In the various cup competitions they got through to the second round of the Capital One Cup, eventually losing out to Stoke City in a 3-1 defeat.

In the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy they drew 2-2 with Wolves at Molineux but were unfortunately beaten via a penalty shoot-out.

Finally in the FA Cup they were knocked out at the second stage after a 1-0 defeat to league leaders Leyton Orient.

Previous Meetings:

The last time the two sides met was in January 2010 when a 0-0 draw was played out at MEMS Priestfield Stadium. Infact neither side could produce a goal in both encounters during that season with the preceding game at the Bescot also resulting in a goalless draw.

In total the two clubs have met on 104 occasions, the first meeting taking place in 1927 when Walsall won 7-4.

However the Gills edge the head to head statistics with 45 wins to their name, Walsall are four behind on 41 with the remaining 18 games ending in a draw.


The visitors have been made slight favourites by Sky Bet to win the game, with Walsall given odds of 6/5 to win. Gillingham are priced at 11/5 for all three points.

Bayo Akinfenwa, having netted three times in his last two games, is 13/2 to score first. To grab a brace he is priced at 12/1.

To place your bets and create an online account, click here.

*odds correct at time of writing


Referee – Trevor Kettle
Assistants - Carl Brook and Robert Whitton
Fourth Official - Elliott Kaye