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Walsall match preview

14 September 2018

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Rovers go on the road this weekend when they travel to the West Midlands to face Walsall on Saturday.

Rovers will be looking to build on their 2-1 victory over Luton Town last weekend, maintaining their unbeaten run of four games.

Rovers last away trip saw them draw 1-1 with Sky Bet League One leaders Peterborough United, taking the lead through John Marquis before Ryan Tafazolli’s second-half header.

Brief history of Walsall FC

Walsall play at the 11,300-capacity Banks’s Stadium, which has been their home since 1990, moving from previous home Fellows Park – the stadium is notable for its huge advertising sign behind the stand where Rovers fans will be situated, which backs on to the M6.

They are nicknamed the Saddlers which stems from the town being the traditional home of the saddle-making industry.

This current season will be the Saddlers 12th consecutive campaign in the third tier, having been promoted from League Two as champions in 2007, with current manager Dean Keates being top scorer during that year.

Current Rovers defender Andy Butler spent four years with the Saddlers, being named as captain shortly after his arrival, going on to win the club’s Player of the Year award in both 2011 and 2012.

Who’s the gaffer?

Dean Keates is the man in the Saddlers’ dugout, having joined the club for the third time in March 2018, for the first time as manager. Keates began playing football for his hometown club, playing for the Saddlers for the first seven years of his career between 1995 and 2002 making over 200 appearances in his first spell, twice helping them to promotion to Division One. He returned to the Banks’s Stadium in 2005, spending two more seasons with the Saddlers, this time helping them to the League Two title as top scorer.

He returned to the West Midlands following two years in charge of National League side Wrexham, and so far has won eight of his 19 games in charge of the Saddlers, drawing six and losing five times, leaving him with a win percentage of 42.1 per cent.

Ones to watch

Andy Cook

The forward signed from Tranmere Rovers over the summer after scoring in their 2-1 win at Wembley Stadium in the National League play-off final. In total, over two years at Tranmere, Cook scored 51 goals in all competitions, which eventually earned him a move to the third tier. Cook has adapted to life in League One well, scoring four goals so far, including a late equaliser at Barnsley last weekend.

Connor Ronan

The midfielder arrived at the Banks’s Stadium at the end of August, signing on loan from Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers. Ronan spent the second half of last season on loan at fellow League One side Portsmouth, making 16 appearances in the league. He also has two appearances at youth level for England under-17, before switching allegiance to the Republic of Ireland youth sides, representing the Irish at under-17, under-19 and under-21 levels, scoring twice across the three teams.

Liam Roberts

The goalkeeper is under contract with his hometown club, having graduated through the Saddlers’ academy system in 2012. Roberts has spent the first few years as understudy, but he has been given the opportunity under Dean Keates to stake a claim for the number one shirt this season, starting in all seven of the Saddlers’ league games so far.

Who’s the ref?

Antony Coggins will be the man in the middle on Saturday, taking charge of both Rovers and Walsall for the first time ever. He has officiated in seven games in league and cup so far this season, dishing out 25 yellow cards and one red card.

He will be joined by assistant referees Andrew Hendley and Robert Atkin, with Marvyn Amphlett being named as fourth official.

Last time out

Rovers last trip to the West Midlands was one that they will have been quick to forget, having gone down 4-2 back in February. A quick-fire double from Joe Edwards and efforts from Kieron Morris and Amadou Bakayoko saw the Saddlers take a four-goal lead after 71 minutes before late goals from Tommy Rowe and Niall Mason saw Rovers half the deficit.

Rovers last win at the Banks’s Stadium came in August 2012 on the opening day of the League One season, coming out on top in a 3-0 victory thanks to an early strike from Chris Brown, a goal from the half-way line by David Cotterill, and a stunning second-half effort from Kyle Bennett.

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