Stephen Pressley has taken the scenic route to survival with Fleetwood, guiding them to victory just once in the last 11 matches and only five times since November, so it’s fitting he now requires only a point to secure League One status. Back the Cod Army to close the deal at the expense of Walsall’s fading automatic hopes with a bet on the draw at 13/5.
Defeats on Saturday for Blackpool then Doncaster leave the Fylde coast outfit sitting on a cushion of two points and three points respectively but their far superior goal difference means Darren Ferguson has already thrown in the towel and Neil McDonald will surely do likewise if his neighbours play out the stalemate here. The Seasiders would need a 15-goal swing in their favour.
With a home game against Crewe to follow, remaining doubts are minuscule in any case but Pressley will want the job finished at the earliest opportunity, if only for the sake of his sanity over the next five days. The requirement is hardly a daunting one for the division’s draw specialists, exactly half of Fleetwood’s last 24 matches have finished all-square.
For a team that dominates possession and territory most weeks, one that boasts a 54 per cent shot ratio, that’s not really a statistic to be proud of. But controlling the midfield is the name of the game for the Cod Army and they can show that quality in spades against a Walsall side that's lacked consistency in recent weeks.
The Saddlers can still pip Burton to the second automatic promotion berth but they must win their remaining two games and hope the Brewers crash and burn at Doncaster on the final day, while making up five goals in the process. Therefore, they probably need to win this game by at least two clear goals to keep that particular dream alive.
However, two statistics give you some idea of how this game is likely to pan out: 1) Walsall have failed to score a first-half goal in 11 of their last 13 home matches, and 2) Fleetwood haven’t conceded a first-half goal in any of their last nine matches. If the visitors get to the interval without being breached, then the clean sheet arguably becomes their biggest focus.
With that in mind, a bet on ‘no goalscorer’ at 10/1 is also advised. It’s a wager the Cod Army have landed on five occasions in the past three months. Since the turn of the year, Rochdale, Millwall and Scunthorpe have all managed a shut-out at the Banks’s Stadium, while Colchester (89 minutes) and Southend (88 minutes) also came agonisingly close.
Click here for more information about Mike Holden’s shot-based ratings system