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James O'Connor: Time for Walsall to show some pride

Sport | Published:

James O'Connor has called on his Walsall team-mates to restore some pride when they take on relegation threatened Port Vale tonight.

The Valiants arrive at the Banks's Stadium knowing they must win to have a realistic chance of beating the drop to League Two.

Walsall, meanwhile, enter the clash on the back of a disappointing defeat at Coventry – a performance which an angry Jon Whitney felt the need to apologise for at the final whistle.

And now O'Connor has called for a reaction from his team-mates after admitting the Saddlers were not good enough at the Ricoh Arena.

"Port Vale is about pride," the defender said.

"It's about personal pride and it's about our pride as a team.

"Coventry was not acceptable. As a group of players they looked hungrier and they passed the ball better.

"It was really disappointing. You try and set standards as a team throughout the year but we didn't meet them.

"We have got to be better than that. We know that.

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"We let ourselves down and we let down the fans that travelled.

"We can accept a defeat if we keep our performance levels up, our intensity.

"But that wasn't the case. As a group we all have to look at that."

With Walsall sat in the relative comfort of mid-table, the Saddlers players have been accused of having nothing to play for.

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But O'Connor insists that isn't the case. "I don't buy that we don't have anything to play for," the 32-year-old continued.

"You always have something to play for.

"Maybe it's because I'm older and a bit more experienced but you have to make the most of every game.

"We are really lucky to do what we do.

"There is always pride with a football match and you always want to win.

"Coventry was a disappointing day. We weren't good enough.

"We gave them an opportunity to put themselves in a strong position in the game and that's not right.

"Now it's about how we react. It's always about how you react.

"That has been one of mottos in my time at the club. We have to react positively."

Vale make the 40-mile trip down the M6 on the back of the dismal run that has seen them fail to win or score in their last five outings.

Currently four points from safety with two games left to play, the Valiant' also have a worse goal difference than 20th-placed Gillingham.

O'Connor though believes Walsall must worry about themselves rather than the troubles currently engulfing their opponents.

"We have got two homes games to end the season on a high." he added.

"Port Vale are fighting for their lives but it's not about that.

"We want to go out on a positive. We want two wins.

"Coventry was not acceptable and we want to put it right as soon as possible.

"It's another local derby. I'm sure the atmosphere will be good – it's a night game.

"We need to put on the right performance and get a result."

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