Manager Jon Whitney was delighted with the performances of centre-halves Jon Guthrie and Kory Roberts as well as striker Dan Agyei in our 0-0 draw against Bristol Rovers on Boxing Day.
The Saddlers were left frustrated in the scoreless draw but held firm defensively to take a second consecutive clean sheet at the Banks’s Stadium following the 1-0 victory over Scunthorpe United earlier in December.
Roberts was making his 12th appearance of the season for the first-team as the 20-year-old continues his development in place of James Wilson, who missed out against Bristol Rovers and Rochdale following the birth of his child.
Guthrie meanwhile has played every minute for Whitney’s side this season - and The Saddlers’ boss has been impressed with the former Crewe Alexandra centre-half throughout the season.
“Jon Guthrie has been outstanding all season - he’s played every minute and I thought Kory next to him was excellent,” said Whitney.
“(Kory) made one slight mistake (against Rovers) but we’re asking our young players to have the bravery to get on the ball and not just hoof it.
“There are going to be mistakes but as they get older those mistakes will become less and less, and (they will) become more consistent players.
“As a team I thought we defended really well. our shape was good and we broke on them really well.
“For a 20-minute period in the second half, I thought the way we sustained pressure was going to be enough to win it.”
Whitney felt that, after a first-half in which both sides only had a handful of chances on goal, his side were much more dangerous in the second half, as well as less tentative.
“It’s easy when you are chasing a game to just play direct but I thought our decision-making was much better in the second half after we had spoken about it at half-time,” Whitney added.
“The first half was a bit like a chess match and I thought we looked a bit tentative. I thought the lads took that on board really well (in the second half) and we looked to play through the thirds.
“We created lots of opportunities in wide areas, two-v-one overloads, and we got plenty of crosses into the box.
“Their keeper made two outstanding saves and on another day we win that, which would have a been good win as Bristol on their day can be a threat, especially on the turnover.
“We defended really resolutely at times and created enough to win the game.”
On-loan Burnley striker Dan Agyei led the line for The Saddlers and nearly broke the deadlock in the first half with a fine run from the right flank into the box, drawing a fine save from Rovers’ stopper Adam Smith.
Agyei was substituted in the second half after jarring his back and Whitney was impressed with the young forward’s efforts.
“I thought he did well first half,” said Whitney. “I thought he did much better (against Bristol) and did really well for his chance, beating the two players and getting a shot off.
“He’s still a young striker learning his trade and I can’t fault any of the lads’ efforts.”