Newport look to extend their unbeaten League Two run to seven games when they journey up to the Black Country to take on Mat Sadler’s Walsall this weekend.
Our last encounter with the Saddlers ended in a 3-3 draw, and fans will hope we can go one better on Saturday as we look to build on last weekend’s 2-1 win over local rivals Swindon Town.
Graham Coughlan’s men have had a full week’s rest since their last game, with no fresh injury concerns. Kyle Jameson and Offrande Zanzala are both expected to continue their return to fitness, while Luke Jephcott will also hope to see more game-time following a substitute appearance against Swindon.
Seb Palmer-Houlden and Will Evans have been a dominant force up front in recent weeks. Will Evans bagged his 20th in all competitions against Swindon, while Seb grabbed his third consecutive league match-winner.
"Walsall are a very strong team," began Coughlan.
"They will be a changed team from the last time we played them.
"Our last encounter with Walsall was a game that lives in the memory, 3-3 here at Rodney Parade, we went ahead three times, but couldn't see the game out. I believe it was points dropped for us rather than points gained in that match, but like the lads [players] keep saying to me 'don't look back, look forwards'" he explained.
"We're in a better place than when we last faced them [Walsall]. We're in a better place in terms of selection, injuries and where we are currently."
You can watch Graham's full pre-match press conference by clicking HERE.
“A good manager, good assistant manager and a good coaching team so all of those things come into play,” Sadler said.
“They work extremely hard for each other and all the success that they’ve had is out of the hard work they have put in.
“They’re really good people and I’m pleased to see them doing well because I know they had some tough times earlier in the season with the injuries that they had but for us, we’re desperate for the next game after the disappointment on Tuesday.
“We were gutted that game didn’t go ahead, we know when it has been rearranged for but we now throw all our energy into Saturday and we look forward to that being the next game.
“We’re going to have to be right on top of our game, of course we are. We are going to have to match that energy, match that intensity and we look forward to the challenge of it.”
You can read more from Sadler on Walsall's official website by clicking HERE.
Walsall start Saturday’s game without a win in any competition since New Year’s Day. Their last two league matches have ended in 1-1 draws, at home to Sutton and away to Gillingham, respectively.
The team’s lack of form has coincided with the return of loanee striker Freddie Draper to Lincoln. Draper scored ten goals for Walsall in the first half of the season, including a hat trick against us at Rodney Parade.
Mat Sadler has attempted to replace Draper, bringing in Josh Gordon and Mo Faal on loan from Burton and West Brom, respectively. The two men were handed starts in their 1-1 draw with Gillingham, while Douglas James-Taylor was started on the bench. The 22-year-old striker will hope to provide competition for places, while experienced striker and former Exile Jamille Matt is likely to start on the bench.
Isaac Hutchinson will be a key threat for the West Midlands team. He has bagged four goals in his last five games and has shown that he is capable of changing a game at various times this season.
The Saddlers’ game with Morecambe in the middle of the week was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, meaning Mat Sadler’s team will have had a full week’s rest ahead of the clash.
Last Time Out
Our last encounter with Walsall ended in a 3-3 draw back in October. The game went backwards and forwards, with an early Bryn Morris strike being quickly cancelled out by Freddie Draper.
Will Evans fired in a delightful effort on the stroke of half-time, but Draper responded again in the 53rd minute to level the fixture. Morris would complete his brace in the 67th minute, putting us 3-2 ahead.
Just as it looked like the Exiles would take all three points, Draper popped up to grab a scrappy goal in the 96th minute, ensuring the points were shared.
Ticket pricing for the clash as follows.
Tickets will be available to purchase on the day but will incur a £2 price increase.
Any uncollected tickets from Rodney Parade will be available to collect from the ticket office at Walsall.
Head to Head
Our first game with Walsall took place 97 years ago, in 1927. We ran out 3-0 winners that day and have defeated The Saddlers a further 26 times in our 71 competitive encounters. Saturday’s hosts have won 24, with 20 games ending in a draw.
Played for Both
There are a few familiar faces for Exiles in the Walsall squad. Priestley Farquharson swapped South Wales for the West Midlands last summer, and after a spell on the sidelines, the defender has cemented his place in the Walsall starting XI. His defensive displays have been a hit at the Bescot, and he has become one of the first names on Mat Sadler’s team sheet each week.
As we’ve already mentioned, Jamille Matt will likely start on the bench on Saturday. The experienced striker scored 20 goals in 96 appearances for us between 2018 and 2020. His time at Walsall has been limited to starts on the bench, with Mat Sadler relying on him to make an impact late in games.