New Head Coach gets off to a winning start...NEW HEAD Coach, Sean O’Driscoll praised the players' attitude, honesty and commitment after seeing his side run out 2-0 winners in his first game in charge.
A second-half brace from substitute Jordan Cook was enough to earn O’Driscoll’s men all three points and only a second victory over Port Vale in 12 meetings.
“I said to the players before the game ‘if you want to impress me, do it with your attitude, honesty and commitment,” said O’Driscoll. “They’ve done that and have continued where Dean and Richard left off.
"I’m really conscious of not upsetting the apple cart. I’d like to put a few new ideas in but it’s going to take a bit of time so credit to the players."
The former Doncaster Rovers and Bournemouth Manager was unveiled as the clubs new Head Coach on Friday afternoon following the departure of Dean Smith and friend Richard O'Kelly.
The 58-year-old stood in the dugout for the first time on Sunday and made a game-changing substitution on the hour mark, bringing on Jordan Cook to partner Milan Lalkovic up front.
“Port Vale were hard to beat and you thought if they were going to score it would come from a free kick or a long punt down the middle,” he added. “Conversely you thought were we going to score?
“I said to the people on the bench if we went a goal down what would we do? The answer was to stick another forward on so let’s do it now and not wait to go a goal down.
“I’m pleased for Jordan. It was a difficult decision not to start him but he came on and with Milan they looked like they were going to be a threat.
“They’re only small but I’m sure defenders won’t like playing against them.
“He asked whether Milan was going to play out wide but I told him to go up there alongside him. I think it gave them both more support rather than playing up front on your own.
“We got a bit of luck with the first one because I’ve seen the replay and he’s in an offside position but the finish for the second was fantastic.”
The victory propelled the Saddlers to second place in League One going into the Christmas period with a game in hand over our closest rivals.
Having kept a close eye on the Saddlers over recent seasons, O’Driscoll acknowledges the clubs promising start to the season but also warns of the challenges still to come.
“The second half of the season is going to be a little bit more difficult,” he admitted. “The club have always been in decent positions at this time of year but the weather now starts to turn and there are lots of little factors that come into play.
“But credit to the players.
“They’ve handled the fact that they’ve lost their manager and assistant manager as well as having a new person coming in, extremely well.”
The Saddlers are next in action on Boxing Day when we take on Millwall at the Den.