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Walsall (H) match preview

29 March 2019

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Rovers are at home once again this weekend when they host Walsall on Saturday in Sky Bet League One.

Rovers won their first league game in eight on Tuesday evening with an emphatic 4-1 win at home to Bristol Rovers, with a James Coppinger double and Mallik Wilks putting them 3-0 up at half time before a second half stunner from Kieran Sadlier extended the lead.

Walsall on the other hand haven’t played since last weekend, losing out in the last minute to Barnsley at home in a 1-0 defeat.

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 away fans are 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 is 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 18 of his 58 games in charge of the Saddlers, drawing 13 and losing 27 times, leaving him with a win percentage of 31 per cent.

Andy Cook

The striker joined the Saddlers at the beginning of the season after helping Tranmere Rovers return to the EFL after a three-year absence. Cook began his career with Carlisle United, though failed to make a single league appearance and instead spent time on loan at fellow Cumbrian sides Workington and Barrow, with the latter of those switches being made permanent in 2011. He enjoyed two permanent spells with Barrow, with time at Grimsby Town being sandwiched in between playing for the Bluebirds. He fired Barrow to the National League North title in 2015, and then after another successful season at Holker Street, Cook would join Tranmere in 2016. Last season saw Cook win the Golden Boot and a place in the National League Team of the Year following 26 league goals as he helped Tranmere back to the EFL. His last appearance in a Tranmere shirt came in their play-off final win at Wembley Stadium, in which he scored the opening goal in a 2-1 win over Boreham Wood.

Luke Leahy

The 26-year-old is a very versatile figure within the Saddlers’ squad, being comfortable in any position across both defence and midfield, but he is right at home in the left-back position. After spending time with Rugby Town, Leahy was picked up by Scottish side Falkirk in 2012, and he went on to spend five years with the Bairns. He made over 150 appearances for the Scottish Championship side, helping them to the Scottish Cup final in 2015, though they ultimately lost out to Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Hampden Park. Leahy joined the Saddlers ahead of the start of last season, making his debut against Bury on the opening day of the season, before scoring his first goal for the club in a 1-1 draw away at Portsmouth later on in August.

Joe Edwards

The midfielder is a fan favourite at the Banks’s Stadium, and he is now in his third season with the Saddlers after joining from Colchester United. Edwards began his career with Aston Villa and Bristol City, before his move to Yeovil Town in 2012, initially on loan from the Robins, with the switch being made a permanent one in January 2013. That same season would see him help the Glovers to promotion to the Championship for the first time in the club’s history via the League One play-offs. He would go on to take the captain’s armband for the 2014/15 season, wearing it for the first time against Rovers on the opening day of that season at Huish Park. After a season with Colchester, Edwards made his move to Walsall, becoming a virtual ever-present in his debut season in the West Midlands, missing just three league games. Edwards was a thorn in Rovers’ side in the meeting between the two sides at the Banks’s Stadium last season, scoring a quick-fire double to set up a 4-2 win for the Saddlers in February last year.

Who’s the ref?

Graham Salisbury will be the man in the middle when the two sides meet on Saturday, and you can read more about him here.

Last time out

Rovers enjoyed success on the road when the two sides met at the Banks’s Stadium back in September. Morgan Ferrier headed the Saddlers in front before John Marquis levelled the scores from the spot.

Grant McCann’s men took control in the second half though with Mallik Wilks’ stunning solo counter-attack goal and James Coppinger’s delightful curler putting them in front, before Matty Blair added the gloss in second-half injury time for a comfortable win in the West Midlands.

Tickets for Saturday’s Sky Bet League One clash with Walsall are still available via the Club Doncaster Box Office. Purchase yours now by either visiting in-store at the Keepmoat Stadium, by calling on 01302 762576, or online at tickets.clubdoncaster.co.uk.


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