Seven games are all that remain now for the Saddlers. An accumulation of some very exciting games in April will see the Saddlers take on three local sides, including away days at Shrewsbury and Coventry.
With nothing to play for next month I am going to try and take an optimistic look at April and not let the frustration of another mid-table finish get the better of my writing…lets see how long that lasts.
Firstly a trip up north to Bradford. A team that is always physical and tough to beat, playing in front of a huge fan base that will demand nothing more than 3 points to keep them firmly in the top 6. This will be my first visit to Valley Parade and I am really looking forward to seeing what I am sure will be a real battle against the Bantams. Bradford are a club I respect for their season ticket pricing structure and no-nonsense style of football and I think it will be a good achievement if we come back to the Midlands with any points.
Following that we entertain Oxford at home, again a team driving for the top 6 who in my opinion will fall short. I went to the away fixture on New Years Eve and was not impressed at all by them in what was possibly a contender for ‘dullest game of the season’. The Saddlers could have won that game with O’Connor, Ozzy and Edwards all creating chances late on, but otherwise a 0-0 draw on the day was a fair (and very boring) result. Oxford are a team I think we can take all 3 points from and possibly end their playoff dreams in the process.
Then it’s ‘the big one’. Shrewsbury away is always one of my favourite fixtures of the season. There is always animosity between the fans and the Saddlers faithful always travel well for this one. The on -field antics in the last few seasons have also managed to fuel the rivalry. A dubious red card for Chambers a few seasons ago was vindicated when Shrewsbury went down to 10 themselves last season at New Meadow. The lads left it late but Downing and Cooke made sure all three points came home and kept our fantastic campaign rolling on. The impressive form of Tom Bradshaw over the two seasons he was with us surely left a sour taste in the mouth of the Shrews fans as well, especially when he netted against them twice in that period.
Shrewsbury themselves are hovering above the drop as I write this, and if they fall out the league along with Coventry and possible Vale, it will mean (potentially) 3 ‘local derbies’ will be off the calendar for next season, something which in my opinion will be a bit of a shame. If we are to settle back into the routine of mid-table mediocrity it would be nice to have a few fixtures worth getting fired up about throughout the season.
Having said that nothing makes me happier than coming away with three points and I will be hoping the Saddlers can do a job on Shrewsbury, Vale and Coventry when we face them next month. Keep following the blog and I will run down the final four games of the season following the international break. COYR