Pompey v Walsall: The Opposition View

Erhun Oztumer Picture: Joe Deny
Erhun Oztumer Picture: Joe Deny
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It sounds a bit silly to call last weekend’s victory over Oldham a must-win game – but that’s how it felt.

Both sides had lost their first two games in the league and cup, so there was that extra keenness to get the three points on the board.

There’s no doubt Walsall deserved the win, too. They played well in the second half and created a lot of chances.

They had to wait until the last minute to get the winner, though, but it was totally warranted.

Before that, they lost 1-0 at Bury on the opening day and it could have been more – with Bury having two penalties saved by Mark Gillespie.

Walsall then lost 3-2 at Sheffield United in the Carabao Cup, but made a decent fist of that.

They led for much of the game but fell apart for 10 minutes and paid the price.

The supporters are always looking for improvement and the team finished 14th in League One last season.

That was Jon Whitney’s first full season as manager and he had a massive rebuilding job on his hands.

That’s because the majority of the squad which finished third the previous season, and missed out on promotion by a point, left the club.

Whitney lost nine players out of his matchday 18 and most were first-choice players, too.

A mid-table finish last term was perfectly acceptable and the board have now said they want to see the team in the top half.

Whether there’s enough to push for the play-offs remains to be seen with one of the lowest budgets in the league, which is certainly in the bottom six.

Erhun Oztumer is undoubtedly the dangerman. He is your archetypal playmaker and takes on that role in the side.

He scored 15 goals last season, including some absolute worldies. He finished first, second and third in the club’s goal of the season competition!

A couple of his goals were from 40 yards and there were two from 30 yards as well as free-kicks. There were some real pearlers there.

Oztumer makes the team tick and knits all the play together. He’s by far the side’s most creative player.

Keeper Gillespie has started really well after joining from Carlisle in the summer.

He’s hit the ground running after his penalty saves at Bury. They weren’t bad penalties really, but he did his homework and really gambled with the way he went. It was the same against Oldham, with some real key stops.

He looks confident and the fans have taken to him.

Going on the reports of how he did at Carlisle and his start here, he looks to be an important addition.