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Taylor hopes Saddlers can showcase their identity against Stevenage

7 January 2022

Walsall Head Coach Matt Taylor has called on his team to produce an improved performance out of possession and show bravery with the ball when they take on Stevenage on Saturday.

The Saddlers head into the match on the back of a bonkers 3-3 draw with Newport County on Saturday and will be aiming to pick up their first victory of 2022 at the Lamex Stadium.

In the reverse fixture back in August, the Saddlers won 1-0 thanks to an early Conor Wilkinson goal but with a new manager in place and handful of new signings so far in January, Taylor sees them as a different proposition and hopes his team can implement their own identity and improve on last weekend’s display.

“I think my main hope for the game on Saturday is that we show more of an identity without the ball, that we have done previously this season,” he said.

“The game against Newport was something I wasn’t expecting, at times it was a bit like a basketball match.

“We most definitely made errors in that game and the errors did get punished but they were errors we haven’t previously made without the ball.

“I would prefer and my heart rate would prefer a less controversial game against Stevenage on Saturday.

“They’re a team that is willing to fight, a team that is willing to battle and when you look at the players they have recently added to the group, we’re looking at what would be an experienced group of players we are going to face.

“They’re in a position in the league that I’m sure they’re not particularly comfortable with and we have to make sure that we match their hunger, desire to want to win a game of football.

“We’re away from home, we’ve picked up away from home recently so it’s going to be another difficult game and another game I’m sure our players will want to perform in and if we do that, we know we’ve got an opportunity of winning the game.

“It’s the second time this season that we’ll have faced Stevenage in the league but it’s a different proposition this time in terms of the management, the way they play, similar personnel. They’re a team that when I look at the players they have, probably shouldn’t be in the position that they are in the league so we’re totally aware that this is a dangerous game for us and one where we have to perform better without the ball than we did against Newport to get a positive result.

“I think it would be extremely disrespectful of us to think we can turn up and beat Stevenage or turn up and beat anybody, that’s not how we operate at the football club. That’s not how I conduct myself along with the staff and the players.

“I don’t feel there’s any way in which this group of players will not go into this game against Stevenage fully prepared for the opposition that we face but also prepared for when we have the ball.

“I spoke about it after the game, we played too safe for large periods of that game and I don’t want that against Stevenage on Saturday. I’d like us to be braver with the ball and when we haven’t got the ball, to make better decisions.”

Click here to watch our interview in full.

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