Andy Taylor urges the Saddlers to ignore their rivals

Andy Taylor admits to having had one eye on London Road on Wednesday.

Andy Taylor takes on the Crawley defence during the first half
Andy Taylor, right, remains in talks over a new deal

But the left-back says things have changed little as far as Walsall are concerned.

Sixth-placed Peterborough’s 2-0 win over Colchester extended their lead over the Saddlers to five points and checked the pace of growing optimism at the Banks’s, sparked by back-to-back wins.

If anything, it simply highlighted the fact that while the past two results might have kept Dean Smith’s men in the play-off race, they are still likely to need something special to overhaul the Posh and claim sixth spot.

For Taylor, the formula remains a simple one, win the last six games and that might just be enough.

“Ultimately it is down to us,” he said. “Win every game and we will be in the play-offs, or at least the odds are we will be, when you look at what has been required in previous seasons.

“To be honest I did have a bit of a flick over every now and then to see how Peterborough were getting on but that is natural.

“We can’t control what Peterborough do and we can’t control what MK Dons and Swindon or the other teams do. We can only control what we do and we have done the last couple of games, we have picked up maximum points and we just need to keep doing that.

“We need to be ready to step in if they slip up. Obviously if they win every game remaining there isn’t anything we can do. But we need to be ready to take advantage.”

Three weeks ago the chances of the Saddlers reeling off six straight wins seemed distant but the past four results have given reason for hope.

But for incredibly unlucky deflections against Rotherham and Leyton Orient, Smith’s men would currently be on a four-game winning streak and have four consecutive clean sheets. Overall, they have looked more like the solid unit which had so much success over the first half of the season.

For a team which has often struggled to score more than once, the defence’s return to form has been crucial.

“We obviously went through a six or seven-game spell when we were conceding more than we usually do,” added Taylor. “We are generally quite tight but the last four or five games it does feel that as a team we are back to being solid.

“We feel if we go a goal up we are quite capable of shutting up shop and winning 1-0 which we have done on a couple of occasions.”

Tomorrow’s Vale Park clash is the deciding game of this season’s series between the two rivals, who are separated by just two points.

Walsall triumphed 2-1 in Staffordshire during the opening week of the campaign to knock Vale out of the League Cup. Micky Adams’ men then returned the favour with a 2-0 win at the Banks’s in November.

Walsall’s main issue is in attack, where Smith has a number of options available to replace suspended top scorer Craig Westcarr. Both Troy Hewitt and Liverpool loanee Michael Ngoo could start, though fit again Milan Lalkovic could play as a central striker.