A local derby at Greenhous Meadow tomorrow...
The Saddlers are winless in five heading into tomorrow’s local derby with struggling Shrewsbury, who desperately need points in their fight against relegation. Paul Hurst’s Town boosted their survival chances with victory over Rochdale last time out – their first win in seven - but remain just one point and two places above the bottom four. Walsall - still without an away win in 2017, a run of nine matches – will be eager to build on an impressive recent record against the Shropshire outfit. We have won seven of the last nine meetings between the sides, including the last three – the most recent being a 3-2 victory at the Banks’s in October. The Saddlers - under caretaker bosses Jon Whitney, John Ward and Neil Cutler - ran out 3-1 winners in last season’s corresponding match, the day after Dean Smith’s departure to Brentford.
Shrewsbury: 19th – P42 W12 D10 L20 F43 A59 PTS46
Walsall: 14th – P41 W13 D15 L13 F48 A51 PTS54
8th April – Shrewsbury 1-0 Rochdale – League One
Shrewsbury climbed out of the relegation zone with a vital victory over Rochdale, ending a run of four consecutive defeats. Barnsley loanee Stefan Payne scored the only goal on 16 minutes – his first for the club - when he calmly slotted past the advancing Conrad Logan. Former Saddler Bryn Morris twice went close to doubling the Shrews’ advantage, while Rochdale’s Keith Kean whistled a 20-yard effort wide and Calvin Andrew had a stoppage-time header disallowed.
8th April – Walsall 1-1 Oxford – League One
Record signing Andreas Makris scored his first Walsall goal but the Saddlers had to settle for a point against mid-table Oxford. Jon Whitney’s side created the better first-half chances, with Scott Laird having an early goal controversially disallowed and Kieron Morris rattling a post. The hosts made the breakthrough on 47 minutes as Makris’ half-volley crashed in off the bar, but the U’s rescued a point courtesy of Chris Maguire’s deflected 75th-minute strike.
Walsall wins: 42
15th October 2016 – Walsall 3-2 Shrewsbury – League One
Erhun Oztumer scored an 88th-minute winner as Walsall overcame managerless Shrewsbury in a dramatic five-goal derby thriller. Amadou Bakayoko drilled the Saddlers ahead on 23 minutes, only for Oliver Lancashire to level seven minutes later. Kieron Morris restored Walsall’s lead before half-time, but the visitors equalised again through Junior Brown. Shrewsbury’s Ryan McGivern was then shown red and Oztumer made the numerical advantage tell when he netted directly from a corner. Bakayoko was sent off for over-celebrating, but Jon Whitney’s side held on for a third straight win.
Shrewsbury Manager: Paul Hurst
Sheffield-born Hurst has won 12 of his 31 matches since joining Town last October. Before then, the 41-year-old spent five years at Grimsby, initially as joint-boss with Rob Scott before taking sole charge in 2013, guiding the Mariners to promotion back to the Football League last season. A diminutive left-back, Hurst spent his entire playing career at Rotherham, making over 400 appearances in 15 years.
Shrewsbury Star Man: Louis Dodds
The 30-year-old is Salop’s leading scorer with eight goals from midfield. The former Leicester trainee joined Shrewsbury on a two-year deal last summer after leaving Port Vale, for whom he made over 300 appearances in eight seasons. Born in Sheffield, Dodds came through Leicester’s youth ranks and had spells on loan at Northwich, Rochdale and Lincoln before joining Vale, where he also won promotion from League Two in 2012/13.
Erhun Oztumer has returned to training following an ankle injury. Reece Flanagan remains sidelined.
The County Durham-based official has taken charge of 36 games this term, brandishing 80 yellow cards and eight red. He has refereed two Saddlers matches in 2016/17 – our 3-1 league win over Bristol Rovers and 3-1 Checkatrade Trophy defeat to Oldham.
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