Jon Whitney was pleased with the response of his players after the Saddlers beat ten-man Shrewsbury 1-0 to reach the Checkatrade Trophy second round.
Amadou Bakayoko’s last-minute header confirmed our place in the knock-out stages as Northern Group E winners.
After the disappointment of the FA Cup defeat at Newport, Whitney was happy with his side’s reaction.
“The club and the fans deserved a response,” he said. “When your character is questioned, that has to hurt. We put ourselves in that situation.
“It was two strong teams and you could see each team wanted to win. We both wanted to top the group to get a home tie in the second round and I thought the first-half was a good game of football.
“They flipped to a three [at the back] but I thought we handled it well and were the better team. It was really nice to get that goal at the end and that’s two in two for Ama now.
“It was a really good response – we showed good character and we need to now push on and work hard on the training pitch for ten days going into two important home games.”
Whitney continued: “With two defeats, you don’t want to make it a third and you’re looking for a response. We questioned the group character.
“Words are words. People are entitled to their opinions and we do listen and we have to accountable.
“But I do think the players deserve a bit of praise for how they responded. It has to be a regular thing now.
“We need to build confidence from that and I thought it was a really solid performance.
“We couldn’t wait and be reactive, we had to be proactive and get the first punch in.
“The decision making from the players was good and the will to win.”