Walsall: League One season 'mad', says James O'Connor

Bescot
Walsall have enjoyed six of their 10 clean sheets this season in front of their home fans at Bescot

Walsall's James O'Connor insists that League One is too 'mad' to call at the halfway stage of the season - and that the Saddlers have a chance of going up.

Dean Smith's in-form, much-improved side go into the New Year just three points adrift of the play-off places.

But the 30-year-old defender told BBC WM 95.6: "It's pointless looking at the table. You have to focus on yourselves.

"Three wins and you're right up there, three losses and you're back down there. It's really that mad."

Walsall's Christmas results perfectly summed up the unpredictability of English football's third tier.

The Saddlers were beaten 4-1 at home by Swindon Town on Boxing Day before going to another of the division's main automatic promotion contenders MK Dons and winning 3-0.

"Losing at home in the manner we did was a massive shock," said O'Connor. "But then we go and put in the sort of performance we did at Milton Keynes, which was a great way to bounce back.

Dean Smith's soaring Saddlers
Walsall were unbeaten in seven League One games until the 4-1 home defeat by Swindon Town on Boxing Day.
But since suffering three straight losses in October to slip to one off the bottom, the Saddlers have lost just twice in 13 matches, to climb to 12th in League One, as well as reaching the northern final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

"And we got another two goals from my room-mate Tom Bradshaw.

"He had a tough time last year at Shrewsbury but he's come here well, worked hard, is liked by everyone and gets his rewards.

"He's a bit of a talisman for us. It's nice to have someone at the top end who can put the ball in the back of the net.

"On top of that, we kept our 10th clean sheet. That's a fantastic record at this stage of the season and it's a platform to build on.

"If we can carry on doing that over the second half of the season and Bradders can keep putting them in then I'm sure we can be successful."

Summer signing O'Connor, who made his first start in over two months at Stadium:MK, was part of the Doncaster Rovers side that won promotion via the play-offs from League One six years ago, and he sees parallels with the current Saddlers side.

"When I was at Doncaster and we got promoted we didn't have the best of starts," added the former Aston Villa trainee. "Around December, we weren't anywhere near the play-offs.

"But, if you can go and string three or four wins together, you're right up there and then anything can happen."

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