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Walsall face ‘biggest game’ in drop battle

By Joseph Masi | Walsall FC | Published:

Boss Dean Keates admits tomorrow’s relegation tussle with rock-bottom AFC Wimbledon is Walsall’s biggest game of the season.

Dean Keates

A 2-0 defeat at Blackpool on Saturday cut Walsall’s cushion above the League One drop zone to just two points.

Having only won one of their last 11 matches, the 17th-placed Saddlers now host a Dons side who have failed to win in seven League One outings.

“It’s the biggest game of the season,” Keates said. “Your next game is always the biggest one but this is massive for us.

“Wehat we have to do as a football club is have to go out and get some points to steady the ship.“Whatever their position is, we have to go and make the game about us.Every player that goes out there on Tuesday night has to give everything.”

Wimbledon are cut adrift at the bottom, 10 points from safety, but have reached the FA Cup fifth roundby stunning Premier League side West Ham United.

Keates added: “They will be disappointed with their form in the league but when you watch them in the FA Cup, they have been outstanding.

“We have to make sure we impose ourselves on them. It is going to be a difficult game.

“They will get in our faces and we have to stand up to that. It might be scruffy but what it has to be is effective.”

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Keates will be desperate for a 90-minute performance from his side after another slow start proved costly at Blackpool, leaving Walsall with just four clean sheets from 31 league games this season.

The manager was pleased with the Saddlers’ second-half response at Bloomfield Road but criticised their efforts in the opening stages.

“We weren’t brave enough in the first 20 minutes,” he continued.

“It was almost like we were happy to stand by someone and just do enough.

“We have got to be braver. We have to want the football, to want to win the game and to want to put them under pressure.”

Keates confirmed George Dobson is a doubt for tomorrow’s game after the skipper limped off against Blackpool with a hamstring problem.

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ - @josephmasi_star

Football journalist for the Express & Star covering Walsall FC.

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