Walsall Head Coach Matt Taylor believes his team will need to be at their best to take a result away from Tranmere Rovers in what he feels will be an emotional fixture for both sides.
The Saddlers have won each of their last three opening day fixtures and will be looking for more of the same at Prenton Park tomorrow.
Taylor is expecting a raucous atmosphere at Prenton Park tomorrow and is expecting a difficult test from Micky Mellon’s men.
“They’re a hard working well organised good football team,” he said.
“We’ll have to be at our best to make sure we take anything from this fixture.
“They’ll be at home, buoyed by their home support but what I must mention catching up on social media, speaking to the chairman and seeing the number of fans coming out to support us and the players on Saturday at Tranmere is pretty much amazing.
“I know the players want it; I know the players crave that support from our wonderful fans so I’m really excited for the game. We’ll have to be resolute, strong in defence and if I look at an area, I want us to improve, that’s in the final third.
“We’ve worked hard this week to make sure the players are as ready as they can be. It will be an emotional fixture for all 22 players that are lucky enough to take the pitch on Saturday.
“Not only is it the first game of the season but it’s the first time in a long time for a competitive fixture that fans have been allowed into the stadium so I expect it to be loud, hostile and I expect it to be noisy but I also expect our players to deal with that and carry out the gameplan and attempt to get a positive result.”
There is plenty of excitement amongst fans and there is a real sense of occasion ahead of the big kick-off tomorrow.
With that in mind, Taylor believes that player who can deliver a calm head when key moments come will decide games early in the season.
“What you tend to find in professional sport, if I relate that to football, is who in our squad whenever that moment comes, whether that be defending or attacking is going to have the calmness to be cold in that moment to make the right decision whether that’s a defensive block, a tackle or an effort on goal but that’s what the game in the first four/five games of the season will come down to,” Taylor explained.
“We’re all going to be up for it, I know emotionally I will be as will the staff. It’s the players controlling that so it doesn’t affect their performance, in fact what it does it gives them an extra lift and an extra level to take their game to.
“There won’t be any coach in the country who will say his players are at peak fitness because they’re not yet. That comes four or five games in when the players have been exposed to that high tempo league football.
“You try to replicate that in pre-season but it’s difficult because it doesn’t have the meaning and it doesn’t have the edge this first league game has which is three points and to replicate that in pre-season is tough.
“What I will say is I am really happy and confident in the group of players we’ve got to go and deliver a good performance. If we deliver a good performance, then we’ve got an opportunity to get a positive result. If we don’t then it’s going to be a tough afternoon.”