Express & Star

Mat Sadler: Walsall need to show more pride

Walsall head coach Mat Sadler admits his side need to show more pride at keeping the ball out of the net.


The Saddlers fell to a 3-2 defeat against Brighton Under-21s in their EFL Trophy opener, and have conceded 16 goals in their opening six games in all competitions.

Defensive mistakes have been a growing concern during the opening stages of the season, and Sadler believes his side need to stop the rate of goals being conceded.

"We should score goals against them. We missed a couple of chances and created a lot of opportunities for us," Sadler said.

"It's there for us all to see. There's no point sugar coating it. We need to get better at defending our box at the moment.

"Not only that but stopping balls from going forward, and having a real desire to do that. We've got a fantastic group here but there just needs to be some pride back in keeping the ball out of the net, which was unfortunately missing on a couple of occasions tonight."

Oisin McEntee was handed the armband with Donervon Daniels on the bench, and scored his second goal of the campaign to equalise in the 27th minute.

Andrew Moran scored twice either side of his leveller, before Liam Gordon's own goal extended Brighton's lead.

The decision to present Oisin with the captaincy was another show of faith from Sadler, although the Walsall boss did admit that he still prefers him to play in the centre of the park.

"I have complete faith in Oisin. He's a person that I believe in incredibly. I want to play him in midfield more than I am playing him at the back," he revealed.

"But unfortunately, I am not able to at the moment. It's about finding a way of getting him back into that position because that's where I want him to play.

"He gives us a different dimension, and a different edge when he's in there. I gave him the captaincy because I think he's a fantastic bloke, a fantastic player and he drives the team on."

Tom Knowles marked his return from injury by emerging off the bench to pull a goal back late on.

He has missed the opening five matches of the campaign, and Sadler is delighted to have him back in the squad.

"Tom is a livewire. He is a firecracker and he's great to have back in the building with us. Even just his enthusiasm about the place is great to have," he added.

"I love watching Tom play. All supporters do. They are falling out of the game a little bit - these electric wingers.

"So, we're delighted to have him back, we're looking forward to when Priestley comes back."