WHEN you are down at the bottom, luck invariably doesn’t go your way.
Two fluky, deflected goals saw Walsall’s unbeaten six-match run come to an end at Yeovil Town.
It meant a long journey back to the Midlands for Dean Smith and his players on Saturday night, the 2-1 setback leaving the Saddlers just a point and a place above the League One drop zone.
With just 10 matches remaining for Walsall to save themselves from relegation, joint top-scorer Jon Macken, formerly of Barnsley, hopes for a change in fortune.
“It’s easy to say, if we had won this or that game, where we’d be but we’ve just got to move on and hopefully get the points in the next few games, which are crucial ones, to see us safe,” said the experienced striker.
“It’s a crazy thing, we can highlight games which we should have won when we’ve been leading and we didn’t. We could have got 12 more easy points - probably more - which would have got us up to sixth or seventh. Look how tight the league is and how unfortunate we have been this season. Once again it’s all ifs and buts but we haven’t got them and we have to get on with it.”
Payback is on the agenda for the Owls, having lost at Walsall on Boxing Day thanks to two goals in added on time and Macken has warned his teammates to beware of a backlash.
“They will want revenge,” he admitted. “It’s a tough game but it’s a division where you can get results at these big clubs.
“Look at Sheffield United away (a 3-2 defeat after leading 2-0) ... it’s another game we should have won. The performance levels were right up there.”
Ex-Wednesday player Smith said he was “gutted” by the result at Yeovil and is seeking an instant response at Hillsborough.
“We’ll dust ourselves down,” said the Walsall chief. “They were two fluke goals, two bizarre goals. You’d be gutted to have one of them against you but two on the same day is gut-wrenching.”
Dave Jones, the Sheffield Wednesday manager, is refusing to underestimate the danger Walsall will pose tonight despite their lowly league position.
He said: “Walsall are struggling; they need points to survive. We need points for different reasons.
“They are not going to come here and lie down. It will be a tough battle.
“We have watched some of the footage of their game against Yeovil. They have got some good players who can cause you damage if you are not aware of them.
“We have to take the game to them. We are the home side.
“Because of the situation there are in, they will fight for every scrap and what we have got to do is match that and hope we have the better quality to get us the result.”
One to watch
Sam Mantom has bagged two goals in three starts for Walsall. The 20-year-old midfielder, on loan from West Bromwich Albion, scored a stunning free-kick on his Saddlers debut against Sheffield United and netted the opener at Yeovil Town.
You have to go back to 1978 for the last time Walsall beat Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. The Owls have won the last five meetings on home soil and are bidding to avenge a 2-1 defeat at the Banks’s Stadium on Boxing Day.