Coach Neil Cutler was delighted with the Saddlers’ performance in tonight’s Checkatrade Trophy victory over West Brom U21s.
Second-half goals from Reece Flanagan, Zeli Ismail and Luke Leahy earned Walsall a 3-1 victory against the Baggies.
And Cutler was impressed with what he witnessed.
“I thought we were excellent from start to finish,” said the 41-year-old, who started his playing career with the Baggies.
“We passed it quickly, limited our touches. We used the game to give a few of our players who had been on the brink [of the first team] some minutes.
“For our young players, it was a chance to show what they can do and they didn’t let us down. They were excellent throughout.
“We’ve got the likes of Zeli, who’ve we just brought in, and I thought he was first class. Our two wide players, in particular, were excellent.
“It was a chance for us to play Kieron Morris on the left. He normally likes playing on the right but again he was direct, got balls in the box and his work ethic was superb.
“It’s not all about in possession, we work a lot on what we do out of possession and I thought both wide players worked really well.
“Amadou [Bakayoko] was a threat – he thrives in this competition and you can see what he’s about. He’s getting more consistent in his performances and he’s realising what he does really well and is doing it week in week out.
“I’m really pleased with the performance. Their goal was a sucker-punch – it was their only shot on target – but the overall performance was excellent.”
Cutler was also pleased to see Flanagan mark his competitive return with his first Walsall goal after a long injury lay-off.
“It was a very good finish,” he said. “We’ve worked on his position and he’d been out for a long time. I feel for the boys because he’s a really good player and a great kid.
“He works hard every day, he just needs to get better positionally – but he did that today. We got him to play simple and he did really well.
“It was a great strike for the goal.”