Jon Whitney felt the first goal was crucial in the Saddlers’ 1-0 defeat by Southend.
Simon Cox’s 17th-minute goal earned the Shrimpers victory and condemned Walsall to a first home reverse of the campaign.
“It’s always difficult against one of Phil’s teams,” said the boss. “He comes and can spoil it better than anybody.
“Once they got that goal, it made it difficult then. They try to kill the game straight away, make it slow and stop you gaining any momentum.
“The second half was better and we created chances. They had very few chances but they got the first goal and that was always going to be an important one.
“It allowed them to execute their game plan and away from home they make it very difficult. They put you under pressure, play direct. The goal was the main thing.”
Whitney was particularly disappointed with the way we started the game and has called for his side to show more consistency.
"It was the general not competing for first balls and second balls in the first half, in the first 15-20 minutes, that I was disappointed with," he added.
“We need to get more consistency about what we do.
“We knew what they were about but we still didn’t handle it well enough.
"Southend was an opportunity to make it five games unbeaten and maintain the unbeaten home record.
"Instead we have lost that unbeaten record which is very disappointing. It will be an incentive to go on another run but we can’t hide that we are disappointed."