Walsall's half term report
It is half term and new manager Dickie Dosh has well and truely settled into his surroundings. He has pulled together the team and coaching staff and the Bescot buzz is definately a happy one.
Jeff Bonser has faded into the background away from those who were calling for his head last May. Even those with concerns over pension funds and ground rents have to conceed that after some mistakes it looks like he has got things right with the appointment of Dickie Dosh.
Off the pitch the fans are slowly comming back, Director Nigel Bond has tried to re build bridges between the club and fans and some different things are been tried to get fans through the turnstiles. The away following is as loyal as ever with the merry band been increased due to an entertaining team, a winning team and local games, three consectitive away following of over 1000 can't be bad for league two after three years of decline.
On the pitch
Goalkeeping - after struggling to fill Wacka's boots we now have three, Clayton Ince had some poor performances against us for Crewe but those doubters have to conceed he has done nothing wrong between the sticks, the way he commands his area has given the whole team confidence. In Bertrand Bossu we have an able back up, in Rene Gilmartin we have a youngster who can now be loaned out to gain experience.
Defence- top of the league have not conceeded a goal at home only lost once away and we still have a moan about the defence. In truth the concerns are at full back and if we were in league one I am sure they would be found out. However we are in league two. Right Back Craig Pead is getting better and gaining confidence under DD, whilst Chris Westwood is slowly winning round the boo boys. On the other flank Kris Taylor and Daniel Fox are a partneship who cover for each others weakness. In the centre we have Roper and Gerrard, find of the season and three goal scorer Scott Dann competing for two places, Westwood can cover and we have Alan Picken to return, against Rochdale he looked the best defender at the club!! not bad really
Midfield- DD seems to like his creativity from the flanks Mark Wright is showing the best form of his career, we have Carlos Fanguerio in waiting alongside Tony Bedeau and Ishmel Demontagnac and returning Darren Wrack. In the centre we go for strenght so there is a lack of creativity but Dobson, Keates Kinsella plus utility players such as Wrack,Pead and Taylor again provide competition. Still feel that we need to get the right partenship in the centre.
Forwards- Butler is key, Hector Sam has showed signs of getting better following a long wait for his first goal. Beyond that I worry. James Constable is a prospect but is lacking confidence and opportunity. Tony Bedeau, I am confident we have not yet seen the real Tony Bedeau, but I must say that at the moment he is not gelling with any other striker and looks happier out wide.Alex Nicholls is approaching fitness and is a bit of a wild card, it is a big if but if he hits form and his promise turns into reality his pace could get goals at this level. Another wild card is Darren Wrack, playing just off the front man, may just be too good for many league two defences.
In sumary it has to be an A+ For results but the real tests are yet to come. The question marks still remain on the defence and central midfield but it may well be that it won't cause us too many problems. However the need for a goalscoring striker alongside Butler or Sam is the major concern...is Alex Nicholls the answer time will tell.
Home form is excellent,away form and performances are average and nothing special but we still manage to be better than the opposition and pick up points.
In conclusion 14 points clear of the team just outside the play off places should ensure that we will reach the play offs as long as we don't implode big style. 34 points from 15 games is automatic promotion form but there is a long way to go just ask Wycombe fans last season. As well as Swindon Lincoln and Wycombe I expect MK Dons to sell Mcleod and use the money to push on, also Peterborough's new owner will splash the cash which could be interesting come January...so don't count any chickens and fat ladies don't start singing in October.