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Match Previews

WALSALL V GILLINGHAM FC MATCH PREVIEW

20 April 2014

We look ahead to the Easter Monday clash as Gills take on Walsall

WALSALL V GILLINGHAM
Banks’s Stadium
Sky Bet League One
Monday April 21
Kick-Off, 3pm

Team News:

Peter Taylor has no new injury or suspension concerns ahead of the trip to Walsall. Danny Kedwell and Bradley Dack will be pushing for starting positions with Amine Linganzi and Michael Harriman also looking to get their places back.

Devante McKain, Josh Hare or Gary Borrowdale are available as defensive cover.

As for Walsall, Milan Lalkovic and Craig Westcarr are both in contention for a place in the first 11.

Lalkovic has had a hamstring problem recently which has kept him out of the club’s last two games, while Westcarr returns after a three match ban.

Manager Comments:



After securing victory on Good Friday Peter Taylor knows his side have a strong chance of avoiding the drop, however he believes another point will be required for safety to be guaranteed.

Speaking after the Tranmere game he said: "I think to be fair to Walsall they were one of the best teams I’ve seen here, they played some tremendous stuff.

"I’m sure Dean’s pleased with his group and I’m sure he’s a little disappointed they didn’t carry on and get into the play-offs, but it will be a tough match."

Smith told Walsall’s website: “If we play with the urgency and brightness that we have done for most of this season, we will be okay.

“We are only too aware that we haven’t had the results at home that we would have liked but we have the opportunity to put things right on Monday and add three points to our tally.”

Walsall -
The Gaffer: Dean Smith

Smith began his playing career at Walsall in 1989 where he went onto feature 142 times in a five year spell.

He moved to Hereford where he again made over 100 appearances before signing for Leyton Orient in August 1997.

Smith had further spells at both Sheffield Wednesday and Port Vale. His career spanned over 15 years where he managed 566 appearances, scoring an impressive 54 goals from centre back. 

Smith joined Walsall as Head of Youth in 2009, but in 2011 he was named caretaker manager and 17 days following his appointment was given the manager’s position permanently.

At the time of the take-over Walsall were nine points off safety but Smith ensured the club avoided the drop, finishing one point clear of the bottom four.

The following season saw his side have a re-shuffle as Smith let 14 players go and it resulted in a 19th place finish.

One to Watch: Sam Mantom

Mantom came through the youth system at Walsall and was impressive at youth and reserve levels, drawing attention to West Bromwich Albion who persuaded the youngster to join the Premier League side.

He went on to be a regular in the Baggies reserve team but only featured once for the senior squad in a League Cup game against Leyton Orient.

The midfielder was sent out on loan to a number of clubs including Tranmere, Oldham and Icelandic team Haukar. He was on loan at current club Walsall twice before signing permanently for the Saddlers in January 2013.

The playmaker has been an ever present in the Walsall side this season where he has racked up 44 appearances, scoring five goals from midfield.

The former West Brom player has provided five assists and is not afraid of shooting, producing the second highest shot total behind top scorer Craig Westcarr.  

The Skipper: Andy Butler

The Doncaster born skipper started his career at Scunthorpe back in 2002 where he remained for six years becoming an ever present at the heart of the back four.

He had a brief spell away from the club when he joined Grimsby on loan in a bid to boost his fitness.

The centre back left Scunthorpe in 2008 opting to sign for Huddersfield where he again made himself a regular in the side.

He joined current side Walsall in 2010 after a brief loan spell at Blackpool; he is now the skipper after boss Dean Smith gave him the captain’s armband when he took over the Saddlers.

The defender has made the second most appearances for Walsall this season with 46 games played so far.

Previous Meetings:

An enticing game took place when Walsall visited the MEMS Priestfield stadium in the reverse fixture in December.

The game finished 2-2 with Gills striker Cody McDonald scoring a goal of the season contender when he scored a wonder overhead kick just 21 seconds into the second half to give the Gills the lead.

Romaine Sawyers equalised for the visitors before Walsall looked to have taken all three points when Julian Grey volleyed home.

The game wasn’t over with Cody McDonald going straight down the other end and firing a shot into the back of the net.

The last three meetings between the clubs have ended in draws.

Season so far:



Walsall’s campaign started with mixed results but their season picked up and saw them look likely for a play-off spot before petering out in the final few games.

They exited both cup competitions early on with a defeat in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on penalties away at Wolves, followed by a 1-0 defeat to Leyton Orient in the F.A Cup second round having already defeated Shrewsbury.

 In the league Walsall’s home record has seen them pick up seven wins, six draws and eight defeats.

Their away record is similar with seven wins, eight draws and six defeats. They have scored the lowest amount of home goals with 20, Shrewsbury are the only team to have scored fewer.

However away from home they have conceded the second fewest amount of goals in the league with 17, the same as Preston.

Officials:
Referee: DARREN SHELDRAKE
Assistants: Danny Gratton and Joe Hull
Fourth Official: Simon Hooper


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