Dean Keates: Mental strength is key for Saddlers
Boss Dean Keates believes Walsall are starting to show the mental strength needed to stay in League One following their last-gasp win over Bury.
An 89th-minute own goal from Adam Thompson saw the Saddlers to a 1-0 victory against the soon- to-be-relegated Shakers on Saturday.
The win ensured Walsall ended a run that had seen them lose their last four matches, all without scoring.
And Keates believes it was essential the team stopped that rot heading into a crunch week that also sees them face Oldham and AFC Wimbledon.
“On the mental side it has been hard for the players,” the boss said. “The recent results, that is a load they have been carrying.
“If players look on social media they will see their names coming up – we all know we hadn’t scored or won in four.
“That’s why we would have taken anything against Bury. It was about getting a result. With the position we are in, mental strength is massive. It’s not about performances now. It’s about getting points.
“The lads trained well last week, they were bright, sharp and moved the ball well.
“We had hoped that would have gone into the performance and it did in patches.
“But it was about the mental side, staying in the game, continuing to work hard and grinding something out and we did that.
“That’s why I was delighted with what we got.”
Despite the win, Erhun Oztumer remains the last Walsall player to score after he netted a hat-trick at Southend over a month ago.
And Keates says he will work hard with his attacking players over the next few days to give them a bit more belief.
“We got into some good areas against Bury but the final ball was not good enough or people were passing up opportunities to have a shot,” he continued,
“I think that is maybe a little bit of a confidence thing.
“We could have made the game a little bit easier for ourselves, but we made the wrong pass or the cross wasn’t good enough.
“We will look at those things over the next 48 hours before the Oldham game.”