Walsall boss Brian Dutton focused on grabbing an elusive first win

Brian Dutton is in desperate need of a first Walsall win as pressure grows on his position as head coach.

Brian Dutton
Brian Dutton

The Saddlers put in a much more adventurous, entertaining and attacking performance at home to Harrogate on Friday but several spurned chances saw them fail to pick up that elusive victory.

Their performance and chance creation deserved the three points but again the conviction in front of goal – and poor penalty record – meant they again drew.

Only one defeat in five games shows Walsall’s progression in becoming harder to beat and defensively sound, but no wins in 12 for Dutton means the pressure is still on.

Chairman Leigh Pomlett insists he assesses the situation on a game-by-game basis but has warned he needs positive results in the coming games to avoid a relegation scare.

With that in mind, and the missed opportunity on Friday, Walsall travel to in-form Leyton Orient today potentially needing a win to save Dutton’s job.

Despite that, the head coach insists he is blocking out the background noise and focusing on the football.

When asked if he needs to beat Orient to stay on with Walsall, Dutton said: “I need the win as soon as possible because it hurts me not to be able to get that win.

“Anything that is going on in the background is out of my hands, I just focus on getting that win against Leyton Orient.

“The only pressure on me is the pressure I put on myself and that’s a hell of a lot.

“I’m a very positive person and focus on what I can control, which is my team, and getting them prepared for Leyton Orient.

“They’re a team bang in form and will be a different challenge than ones faced previously.

“We don’t fear anybody and we go into the fixture thinking how we can win the game and taking it to them.

“Our away form is credible. It’s the home games where the pressure is on to win but now it’s on for home and away games, so we’ll be looking for the win.”

However, midfield enforcer Liam Kinsella cut straight to the point and insisted that Walsall need to get the win, with the players keen to repay Dutton for his work in recent weeks.

“We have to go there and get a win,” Kinsella said.

“We have to be confident and not rely on other teams. We have to make sure we do the business and get the three points.

“Hard to beat but try and nick a goal or two.

“We have the players in this team to beat anyone in the league on our day. If we put in a performance on Monday there’s no reason we can’t win.

“The lads really want to get that win for him (Dutton).

“There’s been chances where we could have got it but it didn’t work out.

“We’re working our socks off to get it and take the pressure off him.

“We need to make sure we’re tough to beat and then nick a goal.”

Walsall missed several good chances against Harrogate, including an Emmanuel Osadebe penalty.

Plenty of good work was done in creating those opportunities and Dutton insists although it’s frustrating, he will take responsibility.

He said: “You do feel helpless when they miss those opportunities but the buck stops with me, I’m in charge.

“I’m in charge of coaching them. Albeit I can’t kick the ball for them, but the responsibility is on me to create those opportunities for them to score.

“It’s worrying obviously because the game is about both boxes, keeping them out at one end and scoring at the other.

“We seemed to have remedied the leaky defence, we’re not giving away as many goals as we did in the past.

“At the other end I believe in these lads. I have full confidence in them. As soon as we get that win I’m sure the goals will flow.”

When asked how he will pick Osadebe up after his penalty miss, Dutton added: “Manny is a real leader in the group and I don’t feel he’ll need picking up.

“I feel he’ll be chomping at the bit for his next opportunity to rectify the penalty miss.

“He’s a strong character and leader amongst the group and I have no concerns with him.”

Rory Holden returned to the squad on Friday after three-and-a-half months out with a serious knee injury.

He is likely to play some part again today and Kinsella insists it is a huge boost to have him back.

“He’s worked his socks off to get back fit,” Kinsella said.

“Before he got his injury he was brilliant and it was brilliant to see him back on the pitch, even if it was for 15 minutes.

“We all know what he can do and it’s a big boost for him to be back and hopefully he can help us for the rest of the season.

“We have a remaining eight games and if we can keep him fit, and make sure he doesn’t push himself too hard, he will be a big boost for us.

“He can create something out of nothing and his left foot is like a wand.”

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