Walsall Assistant and Development Coach Brian Dutton was full of praise for his reserve team after their victory over Rotherham United on Tuesday.
The second-string came from behind to secure their first win of the season in the Central League with Luke Pearce’s strike and a Jake Hull own goal helped the Saddlers to a 2-1 victory.
Dutton was impressed with his team’s attacking display despite difficult conditions and was pleased with the response from the players after a disappointing result at Mansfield Town two weeks ago.
“Coming off the back of a disappointing result against Mansfield where I thought we were poor; we asked the lads to go out there and perform and they did,” he said.
“The first half was fairly even; they had the wind behind them and we played some nice stuff and caused them problems but second half I think we were much the stronger team and I think they were fortunate to come away with a 2-1 loss.
“It always helps playing on astro-turf, the conditions are in your favour there. We didn’t want to play long ball in these conditions with a strong wind it was important that we got the ball down and we passed it and I thought we had players in the team that were conducive to that.
"The likes of James Hardy and Alfie Bates, these types of players are prepared to take the ball under pressure and find forward passes and I thought they did it really well.
“It’s important that we give these lads confidence and let them express themselves. We don’t want to go into their shell and not take risks, especially in reserve team football. We want them to go out there and show us their quality and I thought they did that; I was really pleased with them.”
First team squad members Jake Rose, Kory Roberts, Jack Nolan, James Hardy and Alfie Bates were all involved against the Millers on Tuesday.
Dutton stressed the importance of getting minutes into their legs and singled Bates out for praise after an impressive display.
“I thought Bates was first class,” he commented.
“He was outstanding in terms of getting on the ball and making things happen. We asked him to find forward passes and he did that all match for us, he was 10/10 for me.
“We want to make sure these boys don’t get too rusty if they haven’t had too much game time with the first team and that’s a great set up of having the reserves with Walsall Football Club, it allows them to tick over so that when they do come back into the fold, they’re ready to go.”