Saddlers’s skipper Adam Chambers is hoping his side pick up their home form ahead of his former side visiting the Banks stadium tomorrow. Chambers who made 174 appearances in a 5 year stint for the O’s is in his 4th season with the Saddlers and understands that his side need to pick up their form at the Banks. Walsall have only won 1 of their last 6 at the Banks with the victory coming over Rochdale 3-2 but worryingly 4 of those games have been defeats. Dean Smith’s men sit 13th in the form table with 8 points from 18 but haven’t won in 3 with 2 defeats (Port Vale and Preston) and 1 draw (Bradford).
The Saddlers sit 14th on 41 points but in one of the closest divisions in Europe with 7 points covering 14 teams with Bradford 6th on 45 and Crewe in 19th on 38 points. Preston beat the Saddlers 1-0 on Tuesday night and Chambers understands that “we know we were not good enough in the 1st half, we felt hard done by with their goal but we showed what we are about in the second”. The Saddlers record illustrates Chambers point picking up 2 points from 21 when losing at half time. Statistically Walsall score more goals in the second half than the first and have scored 12 of their 43 goals between 60 and 80 minutes. Chambers spoke after their defeat “we want to get our home form right whilst we know it will be tough against an Orient side who are starting to find form”. Smith’s men top the table when a team is leading at half time winning all 7 that they have been leading, with 3 of their 5 wins home wins included.
Smith and Chambers understand the tough test that Orient possess who are showing a glimmer of light under Fabio Liverani. Orient have won 2 of their last 3, picking up only third home win of the season last time out with a 3-0 defeat to Oldham. The O’s have underachieved with the quality of the squad in E10 but recent performances have improved after 2 wins in 11 before a victory at Chesterfield. Both Orient and Walsall have good records when leading at half time with the O’s winning 3 and drawing 2 of the 5 games that they were ahead at the break. Orient’s problem has been conceding the first goal in matches – 6 times in the last 8 games but Liverani understands the problem. Saturday’s victory over Oldham his side scored an early goal setting his side on their way to victory in fact 2 out of the last three games the O’s have netted the first goal they have earned maximum points.
Orient have only lost 1 in 8 against the Saddlers with a 1-0 defeat at the Banks in 2011 with Adam Chambers scoring the winner on his league debut. The last 3 meetings in the league has seen three draws with a 1-1 draw at the Banks last March with a deflected Nathan Clarke strike earning a point for the O’s. Dean Smith’s squad have had troubles against the bottom 6 winning 1 in 8 (6 points from 24), with the solitary win coming away at Colchester in January. The O’s are 12/5 at most bookmakers which could be worth an outside bet with players coming back from injury and Liverani beginning to make an impression on the squad.
Tom Bradshaw is the Saddlers top scorer with 12 goals but January loan signing Jordy Hiwula has netted twice since joining and Smith can see his potential. “He is a terrific talent and we are pleased City have allowed us to help us with his development”. Hiwula failed to make an impresion at Yeovil earlier in the season but Smith commented on his attitude “the fact that he was willing to come out straight away after having a spell at Yeovil, it shows hunger and right sort of person”. Hiwula looks set to continue with Tom Bradshaw and Paul Downing expected back after sitting out the trip to Preston with thigh strains. Rico Henry is out after dislocating his shoulder on Tuesday but James Chambers is available despite having 4 stitches on Tuesday but Anthony Forde is rated 50/50.
Fabio Liverani injury list has shortened in recent weeks with Andrea Dossena and Jobi McAnuff starting last week with Jay Simpson netting after coming off the bench. Gianvito Plasmati netted in a development match in midweek and looks set to be included in the squad with Gary Woods closing in on a return. Recent loan signing Luke O’Neil could start tomorrow after joining on loan till the end of the season from Burnley but with Gary Sawyer impressing last week, competition for places is fierce.
Orient will be looking to continue their improved performance and form against a side who is struggling in front of their own fans. With former O’s in manager Dean Smith and Adam Chambers, they will be looking to get one over on their former employers but Liverani’s men will be looking to climb the table.
Prediction: Walsall 1-2 Leyton Orient – Simpson with the winner for the O’s