Saddlers visit Port Vale on Boxing Day...
Jon Whitney wants us to build on our performance against Bradford when we visit Port Vale on Boxing Day.
The Saddlers held the high-flying Bantams to a 1-1 draw in an entertaining encounter at the Banks’s last weekend.
It could have been even better for Whitney’s men had ex-Saddler Jordy Hiwula not cancelled out Isaiah Osbourne’s opener, but the boss was still encouraged by what he saw.
“It was a really good game, a really good atmosphere and you could see bits from last year when I took over on an interim basis,” said Whitney.
“It’s your energy that is the catalyst. You have to give the fans something – what they want to see is energy and enthusiasm.
“Sometimes you can technically be off your game but your work rate needs to be right - that should be a given.
“We’ve had games where we’ve been in it this year but we’ve been a bit inconsistent at times, but I thought we kept the ball much better against Bradford.
“Adam Chambers was outstanding, Ozzy brought something into the mix and Flo kept the ball on the transition much better.
“There were plenty of positives and we need to build on what we did well, be solid at the back, and attack from a defensive shape.
“There are some things to work on as well and we’ve shown the players where we can improve, such as the goal, and they have highlighted bits themselves.
“But the players have worked really well this week and we’ll be looking to carry that on over the next few days, building up to Boxing Day.”
The Saddlers hammered Port Vale 5-0 when the teams met at Vale Park on the final day of last season.
Both teams have changed a lot since then, and Whitney is expecting a much closer game this time around.
“It was probably the best result I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Whitney admitted. “I’d take a 1-0 this time!
“They’ve changed the way they play now, they’re a technical team who look to play football all over the pitch.
"They play out from the back and play through the midfield, but they’re a little bit inconsistent, similar to ourselves.
"It'll be a good football game but I think it will be the team who does the basics and the ugly stuff best that will come out on top.”
Whitney also confirmed that long-term absentees, Maz Kouhyar and Reece Flanagan, are both back in training and making good progress on their respective injuries.