Walsall are the next opponents for Richie Wellens' men as they prepare to face the Sky Bet League Two side in the Carabao Cup first round.
It finished Tranmere Rovers 1-0 Walsall over the weekend, as the visitors were upended in the Sky Bet League Two season-opener at Banks’s Stadium.
Former FA Cup champion Callum McManaman’s 73rd-minute goal from close range proved to be the lone and deciding goal in the contest. Chris Merrie was shown a red card for Tranmere with just over three minutes of normal time remaining, but the Saddlers were unable to find an equaliser against the 10-man defence.
Walsall participated in four pre-season summer friendlies in preparation for the 2021/22 slate, including a pair of Premier League opponents in the form of Crystal Palace and Aston Villa. Despite failing to score in either match, Walsall head coach Matt Taylor felt the games provided necessary learning curves for his first team squad.
A bit of brilliance from Wilfred Zaha proved to be the difference in a 0-1 loss at home to Crystal Palace in the opener, while Ollie Watkins bagged a brace for Aston Villa in a 0-4 loss for the Saddlers. Academy prospects Jaden Philogene-Bidace and Aaron Ramsey (brother of former Rovers loanee Jacob) also contributed to the goal scoring for Villa.
In what Taylor called a “ruthless” performance for his team in a 0-5 win away to National League North side Kidderminster Harriers, new signings Conor Wilkinson, Kieran Phillips and Brendan Kiernan all found their way onto the scoresheet for Walsall, joining Emmanuel Osadebe who registered a first-half brace.
Walsall suffered a 2-0 defeat to Cheltenham in their final pre-season friendly.
Carabao Cup Form
When it comes to the Carabao Cup, early exits have been the theme of late for Walsall. In fact, the Saddlers have advanced past the first round on just one occasion over the course of the last five seasons – that coming in 2018/19, with the club posting a 1-3 opening round win away against Tranmere Rovers. The Saddlers would draw 3-3 in their second round match at home to Macclesfield Town, eventually falling 3-1 on penalties.
In last season’s Carabao Cup, Walsall and Sheffield Wednesday battled to a 0-0 stalemate in the first round, with Sheffield Wednesday eventually advancing 4-2 on penalties. During the 2017/18 Carabao Cup, Sheffield United posted a 3-2 win in round one against the Saddlers, while it was Yeovil Town claiming a 0-2 win in a first round contest during the 2016/17 campaign.