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Doncaster v Walsall: Staying power the key to Saddlers grinding out wins

Walsall boss Michael Flynn feels his side’s recent knack of pulling results out of the bag at the last minute is a result of discipline and fitness more than luck.

Walsall strikers Danny Johnson and Douglas James-Taylor have both scored stoppage-time winners for the Saddlers in recent weeks
Walsall strikers Danny Johnson and Douglas James-Taylor have both scored stoppage-time winners for the Saddlers in recent weeks

The Saddlers scored winners in the last two games at Bescot in the 92nd minute – Douglas James-Taylor netting last weekend to send them through to the FA Cup fourth round.

The week before, Danny Johnson scored the winner in injury time to beat Crawley and Flynn said the whole team is ‘switched on’ right until the end of the game.

He said: “It’s what we work on in training, not just the fitness aspect which is a given for a professional footballer but being aware of their positions, what is going on around them and the importance of staying switched on until the end.

“It used to get to me when reporters would ask when we lost by a late goal whether it was down to fitness – it never was, it’s just that good teams won’t ease off and accept things late on in the game when they have a chance of getting something more out of it than they already have.” Flynn said he was delighted with his team’s performance against Carlisle and the atmosphere and backing of the fans.

He said: “It was a great performance by the team and I was pleased we didn’t have to replay plus we get the prize money and move into the next round, which is good for the club as a whole.

“The draw hasn’t been kind to us in terms of being away because you always want to be at home if possible but you can’t have everything and that is in January so we will put it to one side for now.”

Not surprisingly Flynn sees the Christmas and New Year period as all-important and has targeted the next 12 games as ‘vital ones’ to shape the future of Walsall’s season.

He said: “It will be a tough task at Doncaster, they have had their ups and downs the same as us, they’ve had a change of manager and whether playing on a Friday night will change the dynamics of the game is debatable. But we will be ready – I have said it before but we need to improve away in terms of winning games, our home form is very good but we can’t just rely on that.

“We are in a vital part of the season – after Doncaster it’s another away trip to Salford then a home game and Swindon and Mansfield coming up as well so they are all big games for us and will shape where we are likely to finish at the end of the season.”

Flynn said the return of Conor Wilkinson is ‘imminent’ but it wouldn’t be in the Doncaster game.

He said: “Conor started on the bench against Carlisle but that was partly due to the number of substitutes that were allowed in the competition.

“He was never going to play but I can say that he is fully fit and will be able to take his place in the team if selected in next few weeks.

“That can only be good news for us because a fit squad and healthy competition is what a manager wants as much as the current players have done so well in recent weeks.”

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