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Walsall v Peterborough: Josh Gordon is refusing to give up the fight

By Joseph Masi | Walsall FC | Published:

He went over to speak with upset fans following the catastrophic loss to Wycombe.

Josh Gordon spoke to fans at Wycombe

And now Josh Gordon is refusing to give up hope Walsall can retain their League One status.

The Saddlers host Peterborough tomorrow knowing if they lose the game they will be relegated from English football’s third tier.

And they enter the clash following a dreadful run of form that has seen them fail to seize the initiative in the race for survival.

The Saddlers have taken just one point from Oxford, Accrington, Southend and Wycombe in their last four outings – sides who have been, or still are in the relegation mix.

Gordon admits Walsall are lucky to be still be in with a chance of survival.

But now they are, he has urged them to make the most of it.

“We have gone seven games without a win and we are still in it – that is the crazy thing about it,” Gordon said.

“Peterborough is going to be a tough game, they are fighting to get in the play-offs.

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“But we have got to put in a performance and show a bit of dignity.

“We are four points from safety.

“Teams have still got to play big teams. Teams have still got to play teams around them. It’s not over yet.

“We’ve been given so many chances to get out of it – in these two games we have just got to give our all.

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“I know that’s been said before and it’s not happened.

“But the only thing we can do is go into Saturday and get a result and then go to Shrewsbury on the final day and get a result there.”

Walsall fans told the players exactly what they thought of them during the loss to Wycombe on Easter Monday.

At one stage supporters sang: ‘You’re not fit to wear the shirt’.

But Gordon still felt it was important to go over and speak to them at the end of the game.

“You can understand the frustrations of the fans,” he continued.

“They travelled all that way.

“We are frustrated as well so we totally understand why they are frustrated.

“I felt it was right to go over and give them a minute of my time.

“They can say good stuff to me or they can say bad stuff to me.

“But as a professional footballer you have got to take the rough with the smooth. It was one of our last away games and I felt it was the right thing to do to go over and speak to them.”

Meanwhile, a number of Walsall fans are planning a protest during tomorrow’s game. In the 18th minute, supporters are planning to turn their backs on the game to show their disapproval of chairman Jeff Bonser and the team’s poor performances this season.

Fans have also proposed leaving the ground in the 88th minute.

Likely line-up:

Likely line-up

The opposition: Posh can still salvage a play-off position

Marcus Maddison (AMA)

They are a side who sat among the early pace-setters, only to suffer a drastic loss of form and change their manager. Sound familiar?

While this could be Walsall of 2018/19, it is actually tomorrow’s visitors Peterborough United who have endured a similar season.

There are three big differences, though.

The Saddlers began to come undone at the seams as early as October – Peterborough’s season didn’t properly hit the skids until a couple of months later.

But while Walsall persevered with Dean Keates until the beginning of April, Darragh MacAnthony disposed of Steve Evans before the end of January.

And while the return of Darren Ferguson didn’t initially yield results, a recent turnaround has them still in the hunt for a play-off place, particularly after Doncaster Rovers’ shock defeat to Accrington Stanley on Tuesday.

Ferguson – a promotion winner with Posh in his two previous spells in charge – lost six of his first nine games in charge, winning just two others in the process.

But a comfortable 2-0 win over Southend United sparked a three-match winning run that has since morphed into a five-game unbeaten streak.

They saw off Gillingham and Blackpool, both without conceding a goal, only to concede late strikes in draws against Fleetwood and Sunderland – it should be said, though, that Matt Godden levelled for Posh after Sunderland went ahead in the 87th minute of Easter Monday’s clash at London Road.

That leaves them three points behind sixth-placed Doncaster with three matches to play, against Donny’s two, though it is Rovers who have a seven-goal headstart in the goal difference stakes.

There has been no such renaissance from the Saddlers, who have lost 16 of their last 23 League One matches and now most hope for some sort of miracle to retain their third-tier status.

Posh, though, have their eyes firmly on the top six.

“I’m not giving up,” Ferguson said after Monday’s draw. “But we need to win our final three games and then we also need some luck.

“If we get to 75 points it gives us half a chance.”

The boss says:

We are trying instil confidence and belief into the players because we have still got six points left to play for.

Memory lane:

Jason Demetriou and George Evans scored inside the final 10 minutes as Walsall won 2-0 in Dec’ 2015.

Key man:

Andy Cook. The striker has cut a frustrated figure recently. But if anyone is going to score the goals to keep Walsall up, it’s him.

Danger man:

Marcus Maddison

A huge surprise such a talent is coming up to five years in League One. Didn’t have a particularly good start to this season, but has hit form under Darren Ferguson, scoring seven goals in his last nine games.

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ - @josephmasi_star

West Bromwich Albion reporter.

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