Boss felt early red card galvanised his side...Jon Whitney felt Joe Edwards’ controversial sending off actually “united” his Walsall team in the battling 1-0 victory over high-flying Bolton.
The former Colchester man was harshly dismissed by referee Trevor Kettle on 16 minutes for an alleged elbow on Chris Taylor.
But the decision galvanised Walsall’s players and supporters, with Jason McCarthy’s 25th-minute goal – his first for the club – earning all three points.
“I thought the red card was quite harsh,” said Whitney. “I think it was the reaction from their bench and their player doing two or three cartwheels before he fell over that made the referee give it.
“There was no movement from the hand towards the face. He had his eye on the ball all the time and for elevation you have to lift your arm.
“It was very harsh for me but it actually united us and had the opposite effect. You could see the type of atmosphere we had in the ground was similar to last year, which was great to see.
“We’ve got to build on this now and we can’t get too carried away. Already we’re starting to look ahead to Peterborough, and we want to put a run together.”
Whitney was also quick to heap praise on his players.
“They were outstanding – every one of them,” he said. “I know Neil Etheridge made some great saves but the man of the match should go to the whole team.
“Jimmy [O’Connor] added some great experience at the back and in the last 20-25 minutes his experience really told. He was outstanding.
“Kieron [Morris] protected it when he needed to. Oztumer did that as well, Simeon put a shift in, Andreas was great before he came off and he’s starting to understand the English game now.
“Credit to them – they deserve it – but it wasn’t a massive shock to me as we were quite confident that we could get a result against Bolton and I believe in the players.”