Walsall Assistant Coach Brian Dutton was disappointed to see the Saddlers hit with a late ‘sucker punch’ against Oxford United but praised the players for their display on the night.
Darrell Clarke’s side bowed out of the Papa John’s Trophy with a 1-0 defeat to the League One club despite more than holding their own.
The U’s struck through Derick Osei-Yaw in the 87th minute and Dutton felt the Saddlers were punished for one lapse of concentration but he was pleased with how they performed and their commitment in the match.
“We’re really disappointed to concede so late in the game,” said Dutton.
“The lads left it all out on the pitch, there wasn’t a bad performance out there.
“They really dug in for us and it was a sucker punch at the end.
“It was a strong defensive performance, we kept them relatively quiet and Oxford are a top team. They finished in the play-offs last year and were really unlucky not to progress into the second tier.
“It was a really solid performance and then that one lapse of concentration towards the end and with the quality Oxford have on the pitch they’ve punished us.
“It’s a big learning curve for us.”
Striker Jake Scrimshaw, who joined on loan from Bournemouth back in October, made his first start in a Walsall shirt against Oxford and impressed Dutton who pointed out his exceptional work rate as an attribute that attracted their attention.
"When we looked at him that was one of the key aspects we saw,” explained Dutton.
"We saw a player that doesn't stop running and is prepared to put in a shift for the rest of the boys.
"That was key, bringing someone in that could mould to the group that we've got. Jake certainly does that.”
The Saddlers now turn their attention back to Sky Bet League Two as they host Southend United at the Banks’s Stadium.
Watch the game live on iFollow by purchasing a match pass for £10 here.