Express & Star

Dean Keates proud of Walsall players after comeback win

Boss Dean Keates said he was proud of his players after they kick-started the new season with a deserved win over Plymouth.

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Dean Keates

A debut goal from Andy Cook as well as a stunning Luke Leahy free-kick saw the Saddlers earn a 2-1 victory at the Banks’s Stadium – with Ryan Edwards having initially put the Pilgrims in front.

Keates’ side were on top for most of the game but they had to dig deep to claim the win after Leahy gave them the lead.

And Keates was delighted with the way his players held on for the win.

“We went 1-0 down and I thought we had been worthy of going in front,” Keates said.

“We broke in the first half at great pace and created opportunities but we didn’t take them. “That’s football and we got caught out.

“We took the body-blow, recovered from it, got ourselves going again and rightly got ourselves back into the game.

“I can’t be any more proud of the lads than I am now. But we will look back at some of the niggly little mistakes that have been happening and do our best to make sure they don’t happen again.

“I feel we deserved the win. First half we missed a bit of a cutting edge but second half I thought we broke well a few times.”

Keates admitted he was delighted to send the fans home on an opening day with a win.

“It was a home game, we wanted to send the fans home happy at 5pm and I think we’ve done that,” the boss continued.

“It was a collective, a team effort. To a man I thought we were outstanding but it’s just the first game of the season and we are happy with the three points.

“Now we have to get ready for next week.”

Keates also confirmed at full-time the club have accepted a bid for striker Amadou Bakayoko, who wasn’t in the match day squad.

And the Express & Star understands it’s League One rivals Bristol Rovers who are closing in on a deal for the forward.

“We’ve had an offer for him as a club - we’ve accepted it and given him permission to go to speak to the team,” Keates added.

“We will know more in the next few days. As it stands, he’s our player. If he doesn’t get what he wants and he can’t agree terms with the other club, he will be back with us.

“We’ve had a few tentative calls regarding him and an offer the other week that was nowhere near what we wanted and we turned it down.”