City will be disappointed that they needed a 95th minute wonder strike from Alex Fisher against struggling Southend to salvage a point, but at least this extended their unbeaten run to four matches ahead of another trip to an opposition who are so far unbeaten. Matt Taylor named an unchanged starting XI for the third straight league match in Essex but may look to change things with a busy period coming up – Fisher’s goal might mean Taylor takes a look at him at the expense of the misfiring Ryan Bowman, while Nicky Law should be back at least for the bench having missed the Southend trip through illness.
Expert opinion on Walsall was mixed, with Darrell Clarke’s Saddlers expected overall to be in the same sort of mid-table position as last season. Clarke has seen his side emerge as draw specialists, with six of Walsall’s eight matches in all competitions so far finishing level until a 2-1 win over Leyton Orient on Tuesday night ended a run of four straight stalemates. New signing (having been on loan previously) Rory Holden was on the scoresheet on Tuesday, but it was his fellow goal scorer, Elijah Adebayo, who leads the way with three goals to his name so far.
It was Adebayo in the role of super sub who put City to the sword last season in what turned out to be the final match of the regular season. Holden, then on loan, put Walsall ahead early on. Bowman equalised early in the second half then, after he had another goal controversially chalked off for offside as the referee overruled the linesman, Adebayo came off the bench and scored twice to clinch a 3-1 win. The reverse fixture was a classic – Walsall raced into a 3-0 lead through a Sweeney OG, Lavery and Gordon. A brace from Bowman reduced the arrears by half time before Lee Martin netted the equaliser in the second half. Walsall enjoy a lead in league head to heads with 32 wins to City’s 25, just 11 matches finishing level. Details of the last 18 games can be found at https://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?p=10419
Match officials for the game will be:-
Referee: Benjamin Speedie
Assistant Referees: Gary Hilton and Marc Wilson
Fourth Official : Matthew Smith
This is Ben Speedie’s first season refereeing in the EFL.