Walsall host Forest Green Rovers at the Banks’s Stadium for the first home league game of the 2021/22 season.
Matt Taylor will be hoping his side can pick up their first points of the campaign and build on a credible performance against League One Doncaster Rovers in midweek, albeit losing on penalties.
Rovers will be making their fourth ever visit to the Banks’s Stadium and here is everything you need to know about the opposition.
Full Name: Forest Green Rovers
Nickname: The Green Devils, Rovers
Stadium: The Fully Charged New Lawn
HEAD COACH: ROB EDWARDS
Like Matt Taylor, Rob Edwards is embarking on his full-time first senior role in professional football.
The 38-year-old has replaced Mark Cooper who was sacked after Forest Green’s defeat to the Saddlers at the Banks’s Stadium in April.
He began his coaching career with the club he played over 100 games for, Wolverhampton Wanderers where he worked as Under 18s coach and first-team coach to Kenny Jackett.
In October 2016 he was appointed as interim head coach at Molineux and took charge of two matches after Walter Zenga’s departure.
He left Wolves in the summer of 2017 and became manager of non-league side AFC Telford.
Edwards returned to Molineux a year later to become their Under 23s manager and led them to promotion in his first season.
He left the West Midlands once again in October 2019 to take on a role in the England set up with the Under 20s before being appointed Under 16s head coach in September 2020.
Edwards has started his EFL career as a head coach well having guided Rovers to victories over Sutton United in the league and Championship side Bristol City on penalties in the Carabao Cup.
ONE TO WATCH: JAMILLE MATT
Jamille Matt was Forest Green’s top scorer with 17 goals in all competitions last season.
Rovers lost all-time leading scorer Christian Doidge to Hibernian in 2019 and struggled to replace his goals until Matt’s arrival from Newport.
The striker scored 26 goals over two seasons at Rodney Parade and is one of the most potent attackers in League Two.
He missed last season’s encounter at the Banks’s Stadium and Forest Green suffered a dip in form when he missed the last six weeks of the regular season through injury.
He is off the mark already this campaign after netting in Forest Green’s Carabao Cup tie against Bristol City.
Forest Green qualified for the play-offs for the second time in three seasons as they finished sixth in Sky Bet League Two last campaign.
They made a strong start to the season and ended February in second place and on course to win promotion.
A poor run of just two wins in 10 games followed, which culminated in a four-match losing run that saw Rovers slip to sixth and in danger of dropping out of the play-offs.
Defeat to the Saddlers in April spelled the end for Mark Cooper and Jimmy Ball took charge of the first team until the end of the campaign.
Ball picked up 11 points from the final six league games as Rovers halted the slide to remain in the play-off spots.
They were pitted against Newport County and gave themselves a mountain to climb in the second leg as they fell to a 2-0 defeat at Rodney Parade.
Ball’s men rallied in the second leg and turned the tie on its head by going 3-0 up. Newport fought back and the match ended 4-2 after 90 minutes, with new Saddlers skipper Joss Labadie getting on the scoresheet.
In the end, it was heartbreak in extra-time for Forest Green as Nicky Maynard scored in the 119th minute as the Exiles progressed.
Walsall and Forest Green have met just five times in all competitions.
The Saddlers are unbeaten against the Gloucestershire club with three wins and two draws.
The first meeting came in August 2019 with a 1-1 draw at the Banks’s Stadium.
Walsall picked up a 6-0 victory three months later in the Papa John’s Trophy before sealing a 2-1 victory in their first visit to the New Lawn in February 2020.
The most recent match between the two sides saw the Saddlers triumph thanks to goals from Rory Holden and James Clarke in April at the Banks’s Stadium.
PLAYED FOR BOTH
New signing Manny Monthé spent two years at Forest Green and played his part in helping them win promotion to the EFL in 2017.
He played 20 times in League Two before moving to Tranmere Rovers in February 2018.
Isaiah Osbourne is another player to have featured for both clubs having represented Rovers in between his two spells with the Saddlers.
Scott Laird, who also had two spells with the Saddlers, spent 18 months at the New Lawn between 2017 and 2019.