Boss full of praise for his young team...Jon Whitney was delighted with his side’s showing in the 2-1 victory over Sheffield United in the Checkatrade Trophy.
Goals from Scott Laird and Amadou Bakayoko – his fourth in two matches in this competition – booked the Saddlers’ place in round two with a game to spare.
Walsall are top of Northern Group H having taken six points from a possible six, a point ahead of Leicester’s Under-23 team, who we play in November.
And although the controversial Checkatrade Trophy has attracted plenty of criticism among supporters, Whitney feels it has actually benefited his young side.
“We said before the game that it doesn’t matter what game you are playing in, or what the cup is,” said Whitney.
“I know it’s had a lot of negative press but for me it’s been nothing but a plus if you look at our two games and the confidence it builds.
“It’s nice to get through with a game to spare and the manner of the performance was what we spoke about.
“We told them to treat it like a training exercise and look at it that way. In training, the lads’ application and work-ethic is second to none with nobody watching, so it didn’t matter about the crowd.
“If you’re a winner you want to win in anything you do – even if you’re playing with your kids in the back garden.
“If we can motivate internally, like they did, that’s what we like to see and I thought we deserved the win.
“You could see the work ethic and the application, some of our pressing to limit their options. They were two quite strong teams, it was a really good tie.”
Whitney was also pleased with some of the individual displays.
“That’s what I saw in Josh,” he added. “His work ethic for the team enabled him to flourish and show his individual skill set.
“Matty Preston was excellent, Kevin Toner is starting to be really front footed.
“I thought Joe Edwards was outstanding. That’s exactly what he can do in there and some of his break-up play was excellent. He anticipates the game so well and he’s also a threat.
“Our distribution and game management in the first 15 and the last 15 was much better, and that’s what got us the win in the end.”