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Mat Sadler unhappy with Walsall standards in defeat at Barrow

Mat Sadler felt Walsall fell below the standards that they expect of themselves as they lost 2-0 at Barrow.

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The Saddlers are winless in six league games, and dropped to 19th in League Two.

Ben Whitfield opened the scoring for the Bluebirds inside 11 minutes, before Niall Canavan sealed the win with a second 20 minutes from time.

Walsall failed to score for the third straight league game, and Sadler insists things need to improve quickly.

"The first point of that is I am not one to tell them that they had no heart because I know they've got heart, I know they've got passion, I know they want to be successful as a group," Sadler revealed.

"The biggest thing for me is when it doesn't go well on this journey that we're on, what do you do next? How do you affect the next thing that happens?

"We have to get them back into a positive mindset quickly. That's the only way to improve things from my experience in football.

"We know we fell below what our standards are tonight, and we have to get better."

Walsall conceded a cheap early goal as Whitfield was afforded far too much space in the box to bring down Canavan's long ball and find the net with a tidy finish.

And they struggled to defend their penalty area once again for Canavan's second during the second half.

Knowles did threaten late on to set-up a late chance for Jamille Matt, but Sadler admits Walsall didn't pose enough of a threat in the wide areas to open up the opposition.

"The pitch is disgusting. It's very difficult to play anything on, and when you do that, you have to be really good at defending your penalty area, which we were at times," he observed.

"The game (plan) was to try and work the ball in wide areas and try to get us on the front foot. We didn't do that anywhere near enough, only in little spurts.

"Then it gave them a leg up. They are very difficult to play against, and we didn't show anywhere near enough what it takes to come away here.

"But we gave them such a leg up in the game. It was an extremely disappointing night. The longer it stays 1-0 you think we'll get a chance because there was nothing being created on the whole for a large spell of that game.

"It must've been hard to watch for large parts of it. They fell on the right side of it with their two bits of quality, and we didn't show enough of that."

Owen Evans was forced off with a calf injury after 33 minutes and looked very despondent as he punched the turf in frustration.

Sadler is hopeful that it won't be a long-term issue, although he was understandably unable to offer much more detail at this early stage.

"We think it's his calf. We'll have a look at it, but he said it felt similar to the injury he had at the end of last season, but in the other calf," he revealed.

"We'll have to look at it. Hopefully it's not bad because that was 10 days to two weeks."

Priestley Farquharson returned from over two months on the side lines to start for the Saddlers, whilst Harry Williams came on as late substitute.

Ross Tierney was still missing from the squad, and his absence has been felt in recent weeks with Walsall seriously suffering without his energy and creativity.

The midfielder has been out with a hamstring problem for the past four games, but Sadler revealed he is not too far away from a return.

"Ross is very close. I am looking forward to having him back in the same way that you saw with Priestley and the difference he can make," he added.

"We missed the industry of Oisin in the centre of the park, which quite clearly would've helped on a night when you need to be horrible.

"We missed Ross and his energy, and enthusiasm in that way. But he's not far away."