The managerless Saddlers face Shrewsbury tonight...
Tuesday, 1st December 2015 (Kick-off 7.45pm)
Sky Bet League One
Walsall begin life after Dean Smith with a tricky trip to near neighbours Shrewsbury. Coaches Jon Whitney, Neil Cutler and John Ward will take temporary charge of the Saddlers, who can go joint top with a win. Micky Mellon’s Shrewsbury won promotion from League Two as runners-up last season and are currently in 19th position, two points above the relegation zone. The Shrews have improved of late, taking four points from their last two matches against Sheffield United (4-2) and Gillingham (2-2).
Shrewsbury: 19th – W19 W6 D3 L10 F25 A28 PTS21
Walsall: 4th – P19 W10 D6 L3 F32 A18 PTS36
LAST FIVE LEAGUE MATCHES: (Most recent match first)
LAST TIME OUT:
Saturday, 28th November – Shrewsbury 2-2 Gillingham – League One
James Collins rescued Shrewsbury a point against high-flying Gillingham. An own goal from Deji Oshilaja put the Shrews ahead, before Cody McDonald's close-range finish and Ryan Jackson's 25-yard screamer gave Gillingham a 2-1 advantage. But captain Collins earned Town a draw when he latched on to Scott Vernon's fine pass to fire home on 70 minutes.
Team:Leutwiler, Grandison, Gerrard, Knight-Percival, Brown, Kaikai, Ogogo, Black, Cole, Collins, Vernon.
Subs not used: Lawrence, Whalley, McAlinden, Barnett, Burton, Akpa-Akpro, Smith.
Saturday, 28th November – Walsall 2-1 Bradford – League One
Tom Bradshaw scored his third goal in as many matches as the Saddlers secured victory in Dean Smith’s final game in charge. Bradshaw gave the hosts a first-half lead before Lee Evans drew Bradford level after the break. But Milan Lalkovic’s cool finish sealed Walsall's win with 16 minutes remaining.
Team:Etheridge, Demetriou, Downing, O’Connor, Henry, Chambers, Morris (Forde 77’), Evans, Lalkovic (Cook 85’), Sawyers, Bradshaw.
Subs not used: Taylor, Baxendale, MacGillivray, Preston, Morris.
Shrewsbury wins: 22
Walsall wins: 39
18th November 2014 – Shrewsbury 1-0 Walsall – FA Cup First Round Replay
Liam Lawrence’s sublime second-half strike booked Shrewsbury’s place in round two. The Shrews captain fired a superb first-time shot into the top corner on 53 minutes to settle a tight affair. Saddlers skipper Adam Chambers was sent off late on for a lunge on Nathaniel Knight-Percival, although the red card was later rescinded.
Micky Mellon – The 43-year-old was appointed Shrewsbury manager in May 2014 and guided the Club to promotion from League Two in his maiden season. He spent four years in charge of Fleetwood, winning promotions from the Conference North and the Conference Premier. Mellon, who had a short caretaker spell at Barnsley, played for Blackpool, Tranmere and West Brom among others.
SHREWSBURY STAR MAN:
James Collins – Club captain who is Shrewsbury’s seven-goal leading marksman this season. A 12-time Republic of Ireland U21 international, Collins helped Town win promotion from League Two last term, finishing as top scorer with 17 goals. The former Aston Villa youngster, who has also played for Swindon, Hibernian, Darlington and Burton, is into his second spell at Shrewsbury.
VIEW FROM THE SHREWSBURY CAMP:
Micky Mellon (on playing Walsall) – "It will have no effect on us (Smith's departure). We’ve prepared the way we always do, made sure we’re ready and nothing will change - it’s still a very good Walsall side. They’re the best footballing side in the division in my opinion so it’s a great opportunity for ourselves to go and measure ourselves against it. You only have to look at the league table to see how well they're doing." (Via shrewsburytown.com)
WALSALL TEAM NEWS:
Sam Mantom (ankle) is nearing a return. Isaiah Osbourne (knee) is a long-term absentee.
Peter Bankes (from Merseyside).
STAT OF THE DAY:
Walsall have won seven of their last ten matches against Shrewsbury.
TUESDAY’S LEAGUE ONE FIXTURES: (7.45pm unless stated)
Burton vs. Millwall