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O'CONNOR: "FOCUS ON THE LEAGUE"

2 September 2015

Defender on JPT exit...

Defender, James O’Connor, says the Saddlers must “focus on the league” following last night’s frustrating Johnstone’s Paint Trophy exit against League Two Morecambe.

Superb second-half strikes from Jamie Devitt and Tom Barkhuizen earned the Shrimps a 2-0 victory, condemning Walsall to a first defeat of the 2015/16 season.

And speaking after the match, O’Connor urged the players to quickly put the result behind them.

“We’re disappointed but we’ve made an encouraging start to the season,” said O’Connor.

“We have to look at the positives.

"We’re out of the competition, which isn’t ideal because we wanted to win it – like every competition we’ve entered this year.

"Now it’s gone, we’ve got to focus on the league.”

The Saddlers created plenty of opportunities – registering 23 shots to Morecambe’s 12 – but, for the first time this season, we were unable to find the net.

“It was frustrating,” admitted O’Connor.

“We played OK in the first half and still managed to create a lot of chances.

"We came out full of positivity in the second half, and fully expected to get the win.

"Their lad (Jamie Devitt) scored a worldie for the first goal – it was a great finish.

"We still reacted right, and created chances, but unfortunately it just didn’t go in tonight.”

Manager, Dean Smith, made six changes to the Saddlers’ starting XI, giving first starts of the season to youngsters, Liam Kinsella and Matt Preston.

And O’Connor was impressed with their performances.

“The young lads who came in did well again, which we fully expected,” he said.

“I thought they were excellent.

"I don’t look at them as youngsters – they’re good players.

"They’ve come in, had an opportunity, and done well.

"They’ll have given the gaffer more food for thought for Saturday and going forward as well.

"It’s good to see that we’ve got strength in depth.

"Every time someone have come on (off the bench), they’ve made an impact – normally a positive one.

"That was the same tonight, we just couldn’t get a goal to turn the game."

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