Cheltenham v Walsall preview
Walsall manager Darrell Clarke is hoping the competition between strikers Caolan Lavery and Josh Gordon can fire his team up the league as they prepare to face promotion hopefuls Cheltenham Town.
Lavery fired in his ninth goal of the season against Portsmouth in the 2-1 EFL Trophy loss on Tuesday and with Gordon just behind him on eight, the pair have emerged as the first choice pairing up front.
And with the Saddlers travelling to Gloucestershire tomorrow to face fifth-placed Cheltenham, Clarke is looking for the competition between the pair to continue.
“I love Josh to bits,” Clarke said. “He works hard, he’s committed.
“You can see why the fans love him, he doesn’t give in.
“He can add more goals to his game, which we need more players to do to be honest.
“We’ve lacked a little bit this season.
“If we can do that and keep getting clean sheets it gives you half a chance.
“Let’s hope the competition (with Lavery) continues and everybody keeps working hard and putting a shift in for the team.”
Gordon has scored three goals in his last five matches as the forward enters a purple patch for the club.
And the 25-year-old is also relishing the competition with strike partner Lavery as they both target double figures for the Saddlers.
“I like playing with Lavs,” said Gordon.
“Whoever we play with, you start to build relationships the more you play. But at the minute, Lavs and I have been starting frequently and it’s working.
“It’s healthy competition, but we work well together and as long as we help each other to get goals and win games, that’s all that matters. I went on a bit of a run before and I think if I can continue my performances, my performances have been going well.
“I’m now starting to find the back of the net as well so hopefully that continues.
“It’s just my game. I give 110 per cent like, I do every week, so if it helps us get a result then I’m happy and that’s all that matters really.”
The Stoke-born forward came through several non-league sides, including Stafford Rangers, before earning a move to Leicester City.
He then made his move to Walsall in 2018 and Gordon believes his background in non-league has set him up for his run in the Football League.
“I’ve had a bit of a mixture. I came through non-league, playing against lads double my age when I was 16 and then going to Leicester.
“I’ve got a good balance going and I think that helps me out there on the pitch when it gets a bit tough
“I’ll keep grinding and trying.
“I think the manager’s got everybody’s back, but I think it’s just the way I am, I give 110 per cent.
“It’s maybe down to my non-league background as well, but I think he’s frustrated because he knows what he can get from the lads and that’s all he wants really.
“He wants 100 per cent each game and he knows he can get it.
“The more the team perform, the more you earn that respect from the fans.”