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Walsall v Charlton: Saddlers expected to bounce straight back

By Matt Wilson | Walsall FC | Published:

Connor Ronan has urged the Saddlers to focus on the positives ahead of tonight’s match with Charlton – despite losing three of their last four.

Although the Wolves loanee accepts Saturday’s defeat to Burton Albion was simply not good enough, he believes one win will put Walsall back where they want to be.

Dean Keates’ men have been dragged into mid-table on this run, but they are only three points off the play-offs and have a game in hand on plenty of teams above them.

They can leapfrog tonight’s opponents with victory, and Ronan says the Saddlers have shown they can bounce back from defeat already this season.

“After a loss like Burton, there is always going to be some negativity and we are going to be a bit down,” he admitted.

“But I think we just need to look at where we are. We are not miles off it, we can still get to where we want to be.

“It’s just keeping positive. Looking at the table things are very tight.

“One win will get you where you want to be, and then we need to get that consistency and get a bit of a run going.”

After losing to Doncaster earlier this season, Walsall bounced back with victory at Oxford.

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After losing to Accrington Stanley, they picked up four points from their next two games.

The only defeat Keates’ men haven’t reacted to was the loss at Luton Town, which was followed up by another defeat at Southend.

Ronan expects Walsall to get back to winning ways with a professional performance against Charlton tonight.

“This season we have showed whenever we have had a poor performance or result we have bounced back,” he said. “That’s been key for us.

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“When we haven’t performed, we’ve addressed it as a team.

“We normally bounce back in the next game.

“We haven’t got a full week to dwell on it which is a good thing and the lads are now looking forward to Charlton. We will definitely have a reaction. We now have to go for the win.”

Walsall beat Wycombe with a 4-3-3 system, but it faltered against Burton on Saturday, which may prompt a rethink from Keates.

Albion loanee Kane Wilson, who was hauled off at half-time, is expected to lose his place to Nicky Devlin.

Zeli Ismail and Josh Ginnelly could also be in line for starts following the rejuvenated second-half display on Saturday.

“We showed in the second half that we can do it,” said Ronan. “If we can play like that from the off we will give ourselves a chance.

“But we didn’t give ourselves a chance against Burton by the way we started.”

A return to 4-4-2 could put extra pressure on George Dobson and Ronan in central midfield.

“It all depends on who you are playing against,” said the 20-year-old. “If you’re playing a two and they’re playing a two, it’s just a match up and you’ve got to be better than your man on the day.

“If you’re playing a two against a midfield three, then it can be quite hard. It definitely helps me playing in a midfield three.

“Having that overload and extra man means there is always someone spare so we can get on the ball.

“But when you’re playing with a two in midfield, you’ll have an extra man up front – so it depends on the opposition.”

Likely line-up:

Likely line-up.

Subs: Dunn, Johnson, Kinsella, Wilson, Osbourne, Morris, Gordon.

Charlton: Steer, Dijksteel, Bielik, Pearce, Solly, Cullen, Reeves, Aribo, Ward, Grant, Taylor.

The opposition: Krystian Bielik returns to face club he never played for

Lee Bowyer (AMA)

He may have signed for Walsall on loan only last season, but most Saddlers fans would be hard pressed to pick Krystian Bielik out of a line-up.

The Arsenal defender signed on at the Banks’s for the rest of the season as the January transfer window came to a close – but injury prevented the Poland youth international ever getting close to the Saddlers team.

Now Bielik is looking for a run of games at Charlton Athletic and should come up against Walsall tonight – despite being hauled off at half-time during last week’s defeat to Rochdale.

“I’ve never come off after 45 minutes, that was something new for me,” Bielik told the News Shopper. “The gaffer made the decision and I knew that it’s not my best game, and that it’s not my standard. Maybe lower than my standard.

“That’s his decision, I have to accept it.

“Of course straight away, after when he said I’m coming off, I was saying that’s going to be tough now for me and I have to do my best in training. Show him that I’m good to play and I deserve to play games for 90 minutes, not just 45.

“We had a proper meeting with him and he said that no one is safe in this team and everyone has to fight for their place because he believes in the quality in this team – not just 11 but 23 players.”

But after fearing for his place in Saturday’s fixture against Doncaster, not only did Bielik return, but he helped the Addicks keep a clean sheet in a 2-0 win that took them back above the Saddlers into eighth, albeit only on goal difference.

“The lads shook my hand and they said to keep your head up,” he added.

“It’s all in your head, you just have to clear your head, believe in your qualities, and start again next week.

“Next training (session), you have to show that was a mistake, that I should’ve stayed on the pitch.

“I’m not saying he made a mistake, I just want to show in the next training (session) that I should play. That was in my head.

“Sometimes it’s good when boys just leave you alone in these situations. You have to play with that alone and I think it was a good experience for me as well.”

Walsall have drawn three and lost three of their last six meetings with Charlton.

Will Grigg and Julian Gray scored the last time the Saddlers tasted victory over their opponents from the captial – in a League One fixture in April 2011.

The boss says:

We have to make sure the errors that we made (against Burton), the simple mistakes, don’t happen again.

Memory lane:

Alan Buckley scored twice in a 4-0 win over Charlton in October 1973. Bernard Wright and Stan Bennett also netted.

The key man:

With two in two, Andy Cook is hitting his straps, and another goal in front of the home fans would go down a treat.

Danger man:

Joe Aribo

The 22-year-old midfielder, signed from non-league Staines Town in 2015, has been challenged to get double figures by manager Lee Bowyer this season.

He has three goals in 13 games so far this campaign, but drives the Addicks on as he continues to catch the eye.

Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson
Football MMPJ - @mattwilson_star

Sports reporter at the Express & Star, who primarily covers West Bromwich Albion.

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