Assistant manager Andy Davies hailed the attitude of the team after the Saddlers’ comfortable 3-1 victory over Middlesbrough Under-21s in the Checkatrade Trophy.
A Jack Fitzwater volley, a Maz Kouhyar header and an Andy Cook rocket made it two wins from two in Northern Group E, all but guaranteeing Walsall’s place in round two.
“We’re delighted with the attitude the players have shown,” said Davies.
“To get the result and get the win was the most important thing for us. We were pleased with the start to the game, to get ourselves two in front, and create a number of opportunities to increase that as well.
“The 2-0 scoreline is always one of them where the next goal is really important. Middlesbrough got that one, but for our lads to settle down a little bit and get the third to finish the game off late on was pleasing.
“The last one was the pick of the goals – but any goal is a good goal as long as it’s going in for you. For us, it’s about creating chances and putting them away. To get three goals was good for us.
“When you have games where there are not so many supporters in the stadium, you’ve got to make sure your attitude is right and I thought they were first class.”
The Saddlers’ first two goals both came from dead balls – our first set-piece goals of the season.
“That was said in the dressing room," Davies added. "We do work on them and it’s about getting the delivery and the runs in the box.
“It’s pleasing to look threatening from them, and I thought we were at Bristol Rovers. To score from it was good for us.”
Youth Team midfielder Alfie Bates gave an assured performance on his first-team debut – and Davies was full of praise for his display.
“He’s trained with us for a number of weeks and it was an opportunity to get him involved.
“I think he did great and it shows there’s a pathway there for the younger players to come in and play games.
“To more than hold his own, he can be proud of his performance, like the rest of them.”