Advertising

My favourite player: Josh Gordon a star in the making at Walsall

By Liam Keen | Walsall FC | Published:

Our sports team are offering their thoughts on their favourite players at the clubs they cover, today - Liam Keen offers his Saddlers star.

Josh Gordon

For a historic Football League club like Walsall, they've had some exciting players over the years.

Some (slightly) older readers will remember the gripping Saddlers teams of the mid 1990's and early 2000's under Chris Nicholl and Ray Graydon.

A mixture of styles has seemed to work in the club's favour in the past. You have the industrial strength of a player like Adi Viveash or Martin O'Connor, mixed with the deft touches of a player like Jean-François Péron.

Paul Merson followed not long after, and in more modern times fans witnessed the flair of Erhun Oztumer and the guile of Tom Bradshaw.

Having only started covering Walsall this season, you would think that this writer's options for his favourite Saddlers player would be limited – but you would be wrong.

Several options present themselves despite it being a mid-table finish for the club, and a certain winger jumps off the page straight away, Wes McDonald.

Having only signed in the summer and not coming into his own until late September, the 23-year-old has been a revelation this year.

He has a few challengers though. Alfie Bates has been superb, although he was left out of the squad for a few weeks before the matches were suspended.

Advertising

Dan Scarr has had excellent games and the odd poor one, but overall solid. Danny Guthrie, when fit, makes things happen with the ball at his feet – even Rory Holden, who came under immense scrutiny earlier in the season, was putting in tremendous displays in the back end of the campaign.

However, striker Josh Gordon deserves all the plaudits and is this writer's favourite player this season – although considering the start to his season, it could have been different.

Coming into the new campaign, the 25-year-old was one of few players to stick with the team in the summer – as 16 joined and 23 left the club.

Josh Gordon

Advertising

The 2018/19 campaign was Gordon's first in senior professional football and it ended in relegation from League One, where he picked up nine goals in a stop-start season.

At the start of the current season, hopes were high among Walsall fans that success could be on the horizon – with expectations of a potent strikeforce involving Gordon.

Following the 1-0 win over Northampton on the opening day of the season, Walsall failed to win in the following nine games in all competitions, scoring only four goals.

For Gordon, he failed to score in his opening 15 games of the season, meaning his place in the starting XI was regularly under threat.

The club went on a six-game losing streak throughout October, culminating in a 2-1 loss away at Swindon on November 2.

Gordon had actually scored his first goal of the season on October 19 in a 2-1 loss at home to Cheltenham, but in the loss to Swindon, when the team were chasing the game, Gordon was an unused substitute.

It was looking rather bleak for the man they call 'Flash', but perhaps that lit a fire under him for what was to come.

On November 12 he scored a hat-trick against Forest Green Rovers in a 6-0 win in the EFL Trophy. Although it was a second string Rovers side, the performance was impressive.

He scored again four days later in a 2-1 win over Cambridge in the league, to end that losing streak in League Two and from there, the run of goals began.

At times, Gordon would score three in four games or he might go four games without netting, but nevertheless his affect on the team soared.

He is not the best finisher at the club, Caolan Lavery probably has the sharper instincts. He is not the quickest at the club – although he's no slouch by any means – but what Gordon does have is fire, tenacity and work ethic in bucket loads.

He is not the tallest or most physically threatening striker, but he will hold his own and get the best of giant League Two defenders – in the air or on the ground.

That fight makes him a perfect fit for this team, he offers something different and has the footballing ability to boot. Fans love him for a reason, he will fight for them.

Several games in the second-half of the season stick out, the 2-1 wins at home to Crawley, and away at Salford and Forest Green – he was superb in all of them.

Hassling defenders and winning ball, having the awareness to pick out team-mates in advanced positions, tracking back to defend for his side and being in the right place at the right time – even when he was made to fill in on the right of midfield.

His season is likely to finish on 12 goals, the highest in the squad. With 10 games remaining, he would have built on that number and he deserved that opportunity.

Despite his fiery attitude on the pitch – something that manager Darrell Clarke loves – Gordon is a friendly and respectful person off it.

From a media perspective he is always forthcoming and he always has time for the fans. There's a reason he was voted the player of the season by voters of the Walsall Supporters' Trust – in a season where McDonald has stolen many of the headlines.

He will have the odd quiet game and might come under some scrutiny, but his overall affect on the team makes him an essential cog in the Walsall machine and a player the club are lucky to have.

Liam Keen

By Liam Keen
Sports Reporter

Sports journalist at the Express & Star, primarily covering Walsall FC and grassroots sport across the Black Country and Staffordshire. Got a story? Get in touch on 01902 319456.

Advertising

Top Stories

Advertising

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News