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🔎 The Opposition: Walsall

Jed Penberthy takes a look at Saturday's opponents

13 October 2020

On Saturday, Exeter City will be looking to return to winning ways, as they head to the West Midlands to play unbeaten Walsall.

Here is a rundown of Saturday’s opponents…

  • Founded: 1888
  • Nickname: The Saddlers
  • Honours: League 2 (2006/07), Fourth Division (1959/60)
  • Home Kit: Errea red shirts with white and green trim, white shorts, green socks
  • Form: WDDDW (7th in League 2)

History

The bird on the Walsall FC crest directly links to the formation of the Club. Two of the leading teams in the area during the 1880’s were the Walsall Swifts and Walsall Town. In 1888 the two decided to join forces as Walsall Town Swifts and changed the name in 1895 to just simply, Walsall.

The nickname ‘The Saddlers’ reflects town’s status as the home of the leather industry. During the First World War, one single saddlery company from Walsall supplied an incredible 100,000 saddles for the British Army, in one year alone.   

The Saddlers are Original Members of both the old Third and Fourth Divisions and won their first Fourth Division title in the 1959/60 season managed by Billy Moore. They got promoted again in 1961 to reach the Second Division for the first time in their history.

After back to back relegations in 1979/80 to drop back to Div 4, Walsall returned to Division 2, eight years later.

At the end of the century Walsall would find themselves in Division 1 (The Championship) where they spent 4 of the next 5 years, before another double relegation found the Saddlers back in the basement tier.

In 2006/07, Walsall won their second title, pipping Hartlepool to the League Two trophy on the final day of the season, to regain League 1 status. After twelve years in the third tier Walsall were relegated back to League 2 in 2019, and finished 12th before the curtailment.

The Manager  

Darrell Clarke

The 42-year-old was appointed Walsall boss in May 2019 after management spells in the Westcountry, at Salisbury City and Bristol Rovers. Clarke had an 18-year playing career, most notably at Mansfield and Hartlepool. He left Pools in 2007 to join Salisbury and he took over as a player manager in 2010.

Clarke.JPG

In March 2014 Clarke became first team manager of Bristol Rovers, after John Ward was moved to the boardroom. He wasn’t able to keep the Gas up and spent the 2014/15 season in the Conference. Clarke guided Rovers to the Play-off final the same season, defeating Grimsby on penalties- as the Pirates became the first team in 10 years to bounce straight back into the Football League.

Rovers would be promoted again the following season as Clarke secured a third-place promotion into League One.

Clarke has a strong managerial record against Exeter, only losing once as a manager- when Exeter beat Bristol Rovers 2-0 in the EFL Trophy in 2018.

The Ground

  • Name: Banks’s Stadium
  • Capacity: 11,300
  • Year opened: 1990
  • Address: Bescot Crescent, Walsall, West Midlands, WS1 4SA

PPAUK_SPO_WALSALL_020917_02.JPG

The £4.5m stadium was opened in 1990 to replace the old Fellows Park, where Walsall FC had played since its inception. The Bescot Stadium (now Banks’s due to sponsorship) was opened by Sir Stanley Matthews.

The ground is almost iconic to away fans up and down the country, as it sits just off the M6, and within walking distance of the nearest railway line.

Plans to redevelop the ground were scuppered due to Walsall’s failure to secure Championship status, but the initial idea to help fund the project was to use the back of the away end as an advertising board for the M6- making it the largest motorway billboard in Europe.

One to Watch

Elijah Adebayo

The former Swindon and Cheltenham loanee joined Walsall from Fulham permanently in 2019 and has scored 10 goals in 43 appearances for the Saddlers.

Adebayo is already a name familiar to the Exeter defenders. He scored twice in the last meeting between the two sides back in March and with 2 goals already this season, the 22-year-old is proving to be a real handful for League 2 defences.

Elijah Adebayo.JPG

The striker possesses great pace and at 6ft 4 is also a great asset in the air. His goal against Colchester last week showed great composure and finishing, so the City defenders will have to be on top of their game if they are to keep the striker quiet.

Head to Head

When Exeter do play Walsall the one thing that is certain is goals. In 79 meetings between the two 262 goals have been scored at an average of over 3 per game.

In this time there has only ever been one 0-0 draw, in a League Cup game in 1993. Walsall have had the lions share of the wins over Exeter, although the Grecians have won 3 of the last 5 league fixtures between the sides.  

  • Exeter Wins: 26
  • Draws: 13
  • Walsall Wins: 40

Recent Encounters

Walsall 3-1 Exeter, 7 March 2020

An early strike from Rory Holden and a brace for Adebayo ended Exeter City’s automatic hopes, in the final game before lockdown- in a match most remembered by City fans for that offside call.

Exeter 3-3 Walsall, 21 December 2019

City battled from 3-0 down in the opening 31 minutes to claim a point at SJP. Two goals from Ryan Bowman and a second-half strike from Lee Martin completed the fightback.

Exeter 4-2 Walsall, 21 April 2012

Goals from Dan Nardiello, two for Alan Gow and Liam Sercombe kept Exeter’s League One survival hopes alive against 10-man Walsall.

And Finally...

In 1970 Walsall were forced to move to the Hawthorns (West Bromwich Albion) for their home fixture against Brighton & Hove Albion, as their last 4 home games at Fellows Park were postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. The game attracted 7,535 fans to the game and was Walsall’s second highest home attendance of the season.

How to Watch

You can purchase a match pass at the cost of just £10 in the UK. The stream includes the live BBC Radio Devon commentary, score overlay and replays.

To purchase a match pass please click here.

You can watch the match on your laptop by purchasing a match pass and logging on to the website homepage where the will be a 'Watch Now' button near the top of the page.

This season the EFL have created a new 'iFollow' app where you can watch on your phone or tablet! The old Exeter City app is being phased out, so if you have that please uninstall and download the app:

To purchase a match pass please click here.


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