Walsall rediscovering early season form ahead of trip to Portsmouth

Lewis Mason chatted to the Express & Star's Walsall reporter Joe Masi ahead of their League One visit to Fratton Park tonight.

Monday, 26th November 2018, 2:12 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 5:06 pm
Walsall manager Dean Keates

Here's what he had to say about the Saddlers' chances against Kenny Jackett's men...

Walsall are beginning to rediscover some of the fine form they showed at the start of this season.

A victory over Coventry in the FA Cup a couple of weekends ago was followed by a good draw at Fleetwood, where they were back to their best really.

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Walsall manager Dean Keates

They then should have gone on to beat Sunderland last weekend after being 2-0 up and were unlucky not to win the game.

Barnsley and Sunderland are the only teams in the top four they've played this season, drawing both.

But the draw against the Black Cats was a massive opportunity missed.

It was one of those where a draw felt like a defeat, even though it was against a team who are flying this season.

From the minute Max Power was sent off, they were the better team.

There were several really good opportunities missed, before the two Sunderland goals that came after the restart.

It was just a case of nothing other than naivety.

They are a young team throughout and even some of the older players are playing at this level for the first time.

I think the draws against Barnsley and Sunderland have shown they can match any team in this division on their day.

It won't be any different against Portsmouth.

Dean Keates' men will go to Fratton Park looking for the win, the manager would not have it any other way.

The plan will be to keep it tight and remain organised.

There will be no different approach, it will just be a traditional 4-4-2 system.

It's just a question of whether they can keep things really tight, then take the chances that come their way.

Andy Cook is the target man upfront, he's got eight goals in 22 games since arriving from Tranmere Rovers in the summer.

The big striker has proven himself by banging in the goals at non-league level, now he's transferred that to the Football League.

George Dobson will keep bursting forward from midfield, while Josh Ginnelly is a threat from out wide.

A draw is a result I think Keates would take before the game.

But after what felt like two points dropped against Sunderland, there will be an added edge to this.