Walsall Assistant and Development Coach Brian Dutton praised the first team players who participated in the 2-0 Central League victory over Grimsby Town on Tuesday.
Second half goals from youngsters Jayden Campbell and Luke Pearce saw the Saddlers see off the Mariners comfortably on a productive afternoon at the Banks’s Stadium.
First team stars Alfie Bates, James Hardy, Jack Nolan, Kory Roberts and Zak Jules all took part and Dutton praised their professionalism in what was a strong performance all round from the Saddlers.
“I thought the first team boys out there were first class,” said Dutton
“I’m sure if you’re an under 18 or an under 16 like Luke Pearce is, you’re humble enough to realise that if it’s good enough for the first team boys to put in a shift like that then it’s got to be the least I can do so it’s great for the older boys to set an example to the younger boys so credit to the older lads.
“that’s two games on the bounce where I thought Alfie’s ran the show and he was outstanding. We really like him, he’s a first-class trainer, he does a lot of extras after training and that points in the direction to a bright future.
“Zak Jules was outstanding with his application and how he applied himself out there and it’s what he brings to the table. We know how good a footballer he is in possession and he highlighted that in abundance today in terms of stepping in as a left sided centre-half and making things happen for us so hopefully he can get a bit of match minutes under his belt and take that into the next opportunity he’s given.
“It’s no easy coming into these reserve games whether it’s through injury or form, it’s not easy to come out here and get the correct mentality but they did that in abundance.”
15-year-old striker Luke Pearce made it two goals in his last two appearance for the reserves and is continuing to impress Dutton who gave him more responsibility as a lone striker against Grimsby.
“We asked him to do a tough job out there because he was a lone striker in a 3-4-3 and then a 4-3-3 and I thought he terrorised their centre-halves with his runs in behind and his work rate,” Dutton explained.
“Hard work usually gets its rewards and he’s worked his socks off and he’s getting his rewards with the goals so credit to him.”