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29 April 2016

Fleetwood match is a "semi-final"...

Head coach Jon Whitney has urged his side to adopt a cup mentality for the promotion run-in.

Walsall are third in League One – three points behind second-placed Burton - with just two games of the season remaining.

The Saddlers’ next match is at home to relegation-threatened Fleetwood on Bank Holiday Monday – a game Whitney is treating like a cup “semi-final”.

“We’ve put ourselves in this position and it’s been a massive group effort,” said Whitney.

“It’s one we can’t shy away from. We’ve got to keep pushing on and get even more momentum going into the last two.

“We’re calling this game against Fleetwood a semi-final. We looked at the game against Shrewsbury as the quarter-final – we won that and now we’ve got the semi-final.

“If we win, then Port Vale on the last day will be our final.

“I know it’s for points but we’re approaching it as if it’s a tournament as we need to perform and get results.

“Regardless of what goes on elsewhere – and, of course, we’ll be looking at what happens – it’s about building some momentum and finding some consistency to get automatic promotion.”

Steven Pressley’s Fleetwood are just two points above fourth-bottom Blackpool and need a positive themselves in their battle to avoid the drop.

And Whitney is expecting a stern test against the Cod Army, who we have faced twice already this season.

“I’ve got the utmost respect for Stephen and Fleetwood for the way they try to play football,” he said.

“I think they’re in a false position. Some people will say they deserve to be there over the season but they’ve only lost by narrow margins.

“It’s going to be a really tough game – they’re a good footballing team and they do it the right way, similar to us.

"They’ve got a similar ethos and infrastructure that we’ve got here, one where they’re patient with the manager.

“If they get safe this year, I think they’ll really push on next year, with the way they play, with the high tempo.

“They’ve got some top quality players and it’ll be a tough game – a chess match, but a really interesting one for me as a young coach.”

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