Well here we go…three cup finals standing between us and a return to the Championship for the first time in over a decade. We first have a two legged match against Barnsley, starting with our trip to Oakwell tomorrow.
Whitney “All four teams are in very good form so it`s going to be interesting.
“But we have kept our consistency away from home and our home form has picked up. That is great for us.
“Before there was a little bit of tension at home but we`ve seen in the last month by beating the likes of Shrewsbury and Fleetwood we are ready at home.’
Heckingbottom ‘”You have the one in there who have been the most consistent (Walsall) and the two who have been strong and have sustained it (Millwall and Bradford) and us who have come right from the back and come in there.
“There are different brands of football and styles of play in there with good individual players in all four teams and you are looking at what are going to be some good play-offs – semis and final.”
Barnsley Team News:
Barnsley could be unchanged for the fourth straight game when they take on Walsall at Oakwell in the first leg of their Sky Bet League One play-off semi-final.
Caretaker head coach Paul Heckingbottom has no new injury or suspension concerns, while defender Aidy White shook off an abdominal problem to return as an unused substitute in last Sunday’s 4-1 win at Wigan.
Heckingbottom has not ruled out the return to contention of teenage defender James Bree, who has missed the last five games due to a hamstring injury.
Fellow defender George Smith (hamstring) remains doubtful, while winger Ryan Williams (groin) and striker Marley Watkins (broken jaw) are still out.
Player to watch: Sam Winnall
Winnall has scored twenty two goals for Barnsley this season and is regarded as one of the best strikers out the top two divisions.
Walsall Team News:
Walsall boss Jon Whitney has a near full squad to choose from – that includes Isaiah Osbourne who was surprisingly on the bench during last Sunday’s 5-0 victory over Port Vale.
Reece Flanagan is the only absentee and will be out the side until the Autumn.
Player to watch: Tom Bradshaw
Bradshaw sailed past the twenty goal mark again for the second year running and has managed to score two in his last two games – when Tom is on form – opposition defences beware!
Match Facts & Stats
The teams have face each other forty five times in our history – Walsall have won sixteen games, Barnsley have won sixteen and both sides have drawn thirteen.
The Saddlers have the best away record in the country gaining forty five points from a possible sixty nine.
Barnsley have the twelfth best home record in League 1, picking up thirty seven points from twenty three games.
Match officials are as follows
REFEREE – PETER BANKES
Linesmen – Billy Khatib and Mark Duncan
Fourth Official Jeremy Simpson
Bankes has officiated four games involving the Saddlers recently – with the Saddlers winning two, drawing one and losing one.
The last game he officiated involving the Saddlers, was our 4-0 FA Cup defeat to Championship side Reading.
Play-Offs are a lottery. Form and past meetings mean nothing and you can flip a coin and choose the winner.
Although the Saddlers do boost a decent cup record recently and having played the way we did against Port Vale – I honestly fancy us to reach Wembley again.
VW Prediction – Barnsley 0-2 Walsall
19/05/16 – WALSALL v Barnsley – Play Off Semi Final 2nd Leg