The Saddlers' last home match of 2016...
The Saddlers will be looking to get back to winning ways against high-flying Bradford tomorrow, in their final home match of 2016. Jon Whitney’s side were beaten by Fleetwood in their last league fixture and sit 16th, six points adrift of the play-offs and seven points clear of the relegation zone. Walsall are winless in five home matches in all competitions, drawing two and losing the other three, but did beat Bradford 2-1 at the Banks’s in last season’s corresponding match. Stuart McCall’s Bantams are fourth on 36 points, eight off the top two, and will be hoping to improve on last year’s fifth-place finish and achieve promotion to the Championship. The Valley Parade club are unbeaten at home but have lost four of their last five away fixtures, including the last three.
Walsall: 16th – P21 W6 D8 L7 F24 A30 PTS26
Bradford: 4th – P21 W9 D9 L3 F27 A18 PTS36
13th December – Walsall 1-3 Oldham – Checkatrade Trophy
Walsall were dumped out of the Checkatrade Trophy after a disappointing second-round defeat to League One rivals Oldham. The Saddlers led at the interval courtesy of Amadou Bakayoko’s 20-yard pile-driver – his sixth goal in four Trophy matches. But the Latics fought back after the break, with second-half goals from Lee Croft, Cameron Burgess and Lee Erwin booking their place in the last 16.
10th December – Bradford 0-0 Charlton – League One
Bradford maintained their unbeaten home record in League One with an entertaining goalless draw against ten-man Charlton. Karl Robinson’s Addicks bossed the first half, with Josh Magennis hitting a post and also seeing a shot cleared off the line. Ex-Saddler Jordy Hiwula spurned the Bantams’ best two chances, being denied by keeper Dillon Phillips on each occasion. Charlton’s Patrick Bauer was sent off late on for a second yellow card.
Bradford wins: 13
23rd April – Bradford 4-0 Walsall – League One
Bradford’s James Hanson scored a 15-minute second-half hat-trick as Walsall slumped to their heaviest league defeat of the 2015/16 season. The Bantams dominated throughout, with Filipe Morais' 54th-minute opener and Hanson's first career treble securing a resounding win.
Bradford Manager: Stuart McCall
The 52-year-old was appointed Bantams boss for a second time in the summer, replacing Phil Parkinson. A club legend, the former Scotland international midfielder enjoyed two hugely-successful spells at Valley Parade as a player, scoring 52 goals in 443 appearances and achieving two promotions. The former Motherwell and Rangers manager also spent three years in charge of the Yorkshire club between 2007 and 2010.
Bradford Star Man: James Hanson
Towering targetman who netted a second-half hat-trick when the Bantams last played Walsall back in April. The 29-year-old has notched 91 goals in 329 appearances for his hometown club since signing from Guiseley in July 2009. Hanson scored a number of crucial goals during the 2012/13 season as Bradford reached the Capital One Cup final and won the League Two play-offs.
Kieron Morris (ankle) will be assessed. Maz Kouhyar and Reece Flanagan are both out.
The Lancashire-based official has refereed Walsall once already this season – the 1-1 draw at Peterborough back in September. He also took charge of the Saddlers’ 1-0 defeat at Oldham in April and the 2-1 victory at Doncaster in February. Toner has taken charge of 20 matches in total this term, brandishing 68 yellow cards and three red.
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