First-team coach Ian Sharps felt the Saddlers paid the price for a poor spell before half-time as we suffered a 3-0 defeat by Wigan.
New boss Dean Keates watched from the stands as three goals in nine first-half minutes from Michael Jacobs, Jay Fulton and Chey Dunkley gave the promotion-chasing Latics a comfortable win.
“In the first half-hour we felt in the game and that we had a foothold,” said Sharps.
“Just before they scored we had a chance when it flashed across goal and Ama [Bakayoko] almost got on the end of it.
“But for 15 minutes, it goes to pot. When you’re down there, you can’t afford that to happen. You’ve got to consolidate after a goal.
“When you’re up there, things fly in and their lad has hit one [for the second goal] and it has flown into the corner. We made a mistake from a corner after that.
“We came back second half and looked better. We know second half that they probably dropped down a gear – we’re not kidding ourselves there.
“We’ve got eight big games coming up now. We showed a bit of character in the second half and we need to show strength in our next eight games.
“We need to have a bit of steel about us, which wasn’t there for 15 minutes.
“The only priority now is making sure we are in this division next year. All season we have been out of the bottom four and we don’t intend to go in there now."
Sharps also reflected on the past week following the departure of Jon Whitney and subsequent appointment of Keates.
“I was sad to see Jon go – he was a good man to me and I hope long term fans will see how much he has done for the club,” he added.
“That’s football life – one man goes and another one comes in very quickly – and the club have acted quickly and made the appointment.
“Myself and John Ward took training on Thursday and prepared for the Wigan game from there.
“Keatesy came in on the Friday and expressed how he wants to go forward.
“We took Saturday and the gaffer came in Monday and Tuesday to see over things and get to know the club and the players.
“He had a little bit of a say on the actual game. When we did team shape, he pulled a few things up that he wasn’t happy about and showed a few of the lads what he wanted.
“The more he’s here, the more influence he’ll have on things.
“After the game, he said in the changing room that we’ve got to step forward now as a team, as players and staff.
“We’ve got to look forward to the next game against Portsmouth in ten days’ time and look to get three points there.”