Writer: Daniel Bailey
Date:Wednesday February 18 2009
In the build-up to Saturday's game with Preston, Saints' boss Mark Wotte has demanded that his side show plenty of fight and passion as they bid to avoid relegation to League One.
Head Coach Wotte spoke to the club's official site about his sides survival chances. He said, "We have six or seven other clubs that we are in a war with. Its got to be 'die or survive' and with this mentality you can do so much more.
"This is not to add pressure but to get into the heads of the boys so that they realise they have to be 100% every match or the other team can kill you. If you are not careful in a war they kill you and I think that message is sinking through."
In the reverse fixture between Saints and Preston earlier in the season, it was the south coast club who showed plenty of grit and determination, fighting back from 2-0 down to win the tie 3-2.
A powerful header from on-loan Reading defender Alex Pearce sparked a memorable second half comeback that Saints won at the death.
A diving header from Andrew Surman and a great solo effort from David McGoldrick gave Saints a vital away victory at the expense of Alan Irvine's men.
Wotte is demanding a repeat performance this weekend and he hopes to give the St Mary's faithful renewed optimism, as they've only seen one league win at home all season.
"We have to battle and we have to fight - it's not about nice football now," he declared.
"For six or seven months we played good football on the ball but now I try to choose more of a mixture of this fighting spirit to be defensively very strong and still try to play football like we did before to score goals.
"This great club should be playing in the Premier League instead of League One and the first win will be very important and we will build up confidence."
Alex Pearce's goal against Preston and his no-nonsense attitude was a credit to Jan Poortvliet's side, but Wotte has even more faith in his current centre-back pair.
"The Championship is a very physical league and if you are not ready to compete than you are in trouble. This was the big lesson of the first three months when we got beat several times from set-pieces, but with Jack Cork and Alex Pearce we brought in some good, young, British defenders to combat that.
"If I look back though, I think it would have been better to have brought one big experienced central defender instead of two youngsters, who could have played together with Chris Perry.
"JP Saeijs is proving that now. He's winning lots of balls in the air, he has speed. He's not an English player, but he can do the job."
Date:Wednesday February 18 2009
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