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Whitney: a team effort

11 December 2017

Jon Whitney hailed a team effort after the Saddlers’ “deserved” 1-0 victory over high-flying Scunthorpe.

Kieron Morris’ deflected first-half strike secured a third successive league win, moving us up into the top half of the League One table.

It could have been more comfortable had top scorer Erhun Oztumer not seen a second-half penalty saved by visiting keeper Matt Gilks.

But the Saddlers defended stoutly to record a first home clean sheet of the campaign, restricting the Iron to just one shot on target.

“I thought we were the better team and limited them to one chance,” said the boss.

“I’m not sure if it moved [in the air] or not, but Gilly [goalkeeper Mark Gillespie] reacted on the second phase really well.

“To limit a Scunthorpe team with the goals they’ve scored to one good chance near the end shows the energy the lads put in.

“It was difficult to pick a man of the match – it was a team effort.

“Everyone’s averages were at sevens and eights – and when you do that you’ve got a chance of winning games.

“We stood up to them and it was a deserved 1-0 win.”

Key to the Saddlers’ success was returning midfielder Flo Cuvelier.

The Belgian shone alongside captain Adam Chambers at the heart of Walsall’s midfield – and Whitney was pleased to welcome him back.

“We’ve had to be patient with him but you can see what he’s got,” the 46-year-old added.

“It was nice to see, against their midfield, that he competed and scrapped when he needed to.

“We all know he can play but I just liked the fact he had a smile on his face before the game.

“He had a smile during it and he had a big smile on his face when he came off – it was nice to see him back.

“We have to manage him. I’ll do my best to try to keep him playing games because he’s important for us.

“After the game in midweek [Development Squad match at Rugby Town], it was always my plan to put him back in.”

While delighted with his players’ efforts, the boss also reserved praise for the club’s staff who worked tirelessly to get the game on following heavy snow overnight.

“The nicest thing for me, with the weather, was going out on the pitch in the morning with the ground staff, community staff and directors,” Whitney commented.

“Everyone dug in together to get the game on.

“I think we should dedicate [the win] not just to the playing staff but all the staff at Walsall for getting the game on.”


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