Jon Whitney praises Walsall's second half performance in win
Boss Jon Whitney hailed his team’s second half display as Walsall secured a first win of the new season by beating Oldham.
A last gasp Erhun Oztumer goal and a Joe Edwards strike saw the Saddlers run out 2-1 winners at the Banks’s Stadium after Ryan McLaughlin had given the Latics a first-half lead.
Walsall endured a frustrating opening 45 minutes with Whitney’s men struggling to break down a resolute Oldham side.
But that all changed after the break with the flowing Saddlers creating numerous goalscoring opportunities before Oztumer’s late winner.
“I think the second half especially is why we are in football,” Whitney said.
“I thought it was exciting, we got the place rocking. Towards the end you were thinking, is it going to be one of those days where we don’t get our rewards?
“It could have been 5-1 in the end with how we dominated the second half. I thought the lads showed the energy and the tempo that we want to play with.
“And credit to them – I was pleased for them that they got the goal.
“First half, I thought we started a little bit anxiously, a bit slow, a bit predictable.
“They were always going to camp in but I still thought we created chances to be two up. It was a bit of a sucker-punch with the goal but we responded really well in the second half and there was only going to be one team to win it in the end.”
Instead of changing formation at half-time, Whitney instead told his players to believe in their ability and to go out and express themselves.
“We didn’t change formation at half-time - we just changed mindsets,” he continued
“We said, openly and honestly, probably none of us enjoyed that.
“I think there was a little bit of tension with it being the first home game. But I said ‘you can’t fear failing. You have to fear not trying’.
“We play this game and put up with all the stresses that come with it, to enjoy our home games. We have to enjoy it – and the enjoyment came second half.”