Walsall boss Dean Keates: 'We were tested to the max'
Boss Dean Keates praised the spirit of his Walsall players after they defended heroically to secure a 3-1 win at AFC Wimbledon.
In what was a bizarre clash in London, the Saddlers took the lead through a thunderbolt from Kieron Morris.
But they were then put under relentless pressure until Neal Ardley’s side gifted them two goals.
The first saw defender Will Nightingale pass the ball into his own net after not realising where his goalkeeper was.
Then shortly after, Toby Sibbick smashed a clearance against Andy Cook and into the net.
“We are delighted to get an away win - there were times when we were tested to the max,” Keates said.
“But full credit to the lads, they kept going.
“There is a great togetherness in that dressing room. They have got each others backs.
“The first 20 minutes was the best we played. We scored the goal and it awoken them.
“For the next 25 minutes they battered us. They had a couple of chances, a couple from distance that flashed past the post.
“But give my lads credit, they defended well, they defended really well. That’s all I can ask of them. And it’s a very good result for us.”
Keates admitted there was a part of him that felt sorry for Nightingale after his horror own-goal.
But he was delighted with the way his players defended - with the Saddlers keeping their shape brilliantly at times and throwing bodies on the line when needed.
“We had to deal with a lot of balls into the box,” Keates continued.
“We have had a bit of fortune with the second and third goals.
“But I think we earned that. There were so many times we won the first ball and then the second one.
“For all Wimbledon’s play and all their possession, Liam Roberts has not had one save to make.”
On the own-goal, which initially started from a throw-in, Keates added: “If I’m honest that was our throw in and it’s gone against us.
“One or two things have gone our way. But in the previous games we’ve had chances and seen things not fall for us.”