Midfield man progressing well...AS WE go into a New Year, Sam Mantom is firmly establishing himself as a key cog in The Saddlers' wheel following a string of impressive displays so far this term.
It's 12 months since the 21 year-old signed a permanent deal here at Banks's Stadium following a couple of successful loan spells and during that time he has continued to make outstanding progress.
He pulled the strings in our final game of 2013 as we shared the spoils with Gillingham after our hosts snatched a stoppage time equaliser to cancel out a last-minute strike from Julian Gray which looked to have given us maximum points.
"We'll look back on that as two points lost," admitted Mantom. "It's frustrating, but there were loads of positives to come from the performance.
"We'll focus on those as we pick ourselves up and get ready to go again in the next game.
"I was delighted to see Jules [Julian Gray] score his first goal of the season; his attitude has been spot-on and it was a great finish.
"That elation didn't last long as they went on to equalise in injury time. We felt that there was a definite push on Adam Chambers in the build-up and then Butts [Andy Butler] went over with their lad and landed on the ball.
"The assistant referee was flagging as their lad got up and put the ball away. It was a disappointing goal to concede, but we move on.
"There was still time for Richard O'Donnell to make a top-notch save with the last kick. He's a quality 'keeper who has been doing that all season and he certainly saved us on this occasion.
"That said, we reacted in the right way to our performance at Bristol City. We know that we weren't good enough on the day, it happens from time-to-time, but we showed that we can bounce back in the right way.
"We're only four points off the play-offs going into the start of the New Year and with plenty of games to go.
"We would have taken that at the start of the season, but we know that there are some tough tests coming up, starting on Wednesday when we take on Sheffield United.
"They will come here full of confidence. Having played them recently, we know what they will bring and what we have to do.
"It'll be a tricky one for us, there is no doubt about that. They have spent heavily on their squad and with Nigel Clough now at the helm, they know what they are doing and will give it a right go."