Darlington to give Walsall a scare
The FA Cup always throws up a surprise or two and this season’s offering has been no different. Can Walsall avoid being the latest EFL scalp to fall at the hands of a non-league outfit? Have a read of our preview here:
Making a slow return
Darlington are a club synonymous with the Football League. They enjoyed many years playing in the EFL until the ill-fated reign of George Reynolds saw them having to restart as a brand new outfit in 2012.
The Quakers have made steady progress, now playing in the National League North and attracting healthy crowds for the level. They are mid-table this season and should have beaten Walsall in the first leg but for some poor finishing. The FA Cup replay will give them the chance to earn some extra money while also offer the opportunity to be giant-killing heroes.
A 5-1 defeat at Brackley at the weekend was a reminder of how much work still needs to be done at the club but this competition has a habit of throwing up some shocks and Darlo will be looking to make sure they are one of them.
Green shoots appearing at Walsall
What a torrid time Walsall fans have been having over the last couple of seasons. Last year saw them get off to an excellent start with some even entertaining the idea of the club making into the League One play-offs but the formed dropped off a cliff and leading to Dean Keates’ dismissal and the eventual relegation to League Two.
Darrell Clarke was brought in over the summer to much approval from the Saddlers faithful and with good reason. Clarke has an excellent managerial CV following a number of years of success at Bristol Rovers including back-to-back promotions.
He is a straight-talking gaffer who expects his sides to work hard and dig in yet Walsall have really struggled under the 41-year-old.
One win in the opening eight games was followed by three consecutive victories but six straight defeats later and the pressure was already mounting. Walsall appeared to lack creativity and confidence, especially in attack where the strikers were having a torrid time, yet a week is a long time in football.
A 6-0 win over Forest Green in the EFL Trophy was followed up by a hard-fought 2-1 against Cambridge to give fans a glimmer of hope heading into this FA Cup replay. Josh Gordon in particular looks to have found his feet, netting four goals during those victories including an impressive hat-trick over Forest Green, albeit a young side that were slightly under strength.
If this continues then the Saddlers can at least look forward to a mid-table campaign, giving Clarke time to truly rebuild the team in his image.
Darlington vs Walsall betting tip
If the first game was anything to go by, Darlington should be dangerous going forward and buoyed by their own crowd they will likely bag a goal. The Saddlers will be more confident following the last two games so backing both teams to score at odds of 7/10 with bet365 make sense here.