Walsall boss Darrell Clarke feels his team have had a positive first week back into competitive action.
The Saddlers held Championship club Sheffield Wednesday to a goalless draw, losing on penalties in the Carabao Cup, overcame League One outfit Bristol Rovers on penalties after a 2-2 draw in the EFL Trophy before they earned three points with a 1-0 success against Grimsby Town in Sky Bet League Two.
He has been impressed with the effort and commitment shown by his players so far and has been pleased to see his side earn what he thought was a deserved victory against Grimsby and keep two clean sheets out of three in what has been a promising start considering the short pre-season programme.
“It’s been a positive week,” said Clarke. “They’ve had three games in a week, with only a four-week pre-season plan.
“I know it’s the same for everybody but we’ve had two clean sheets in that, one against a Championship team and one against Grimsby.
“We’re delighted with the effort and endeavour of the players but we know we’ll have to get a lot better.
“But I’d be saying that if we won three or four nil.
“Apart from them hitting the post, I think we edged the game if I’m honest.
“It’s mixed emotions. Obviously delighted to win the game but I’m disappointed with our final third play at times.
“We didn’t look after it like we can. We’ve had numerous chances to be deadly with the final pass.
“I said to the boys in the changing rooms, be rewarded for your hard work, your hard graft.
“What I mean by that is, finish the opportunities you get.
“I’m sure when I’m having a glass of red, I’ll be delighted that we’ve started with a win.”
While Clarke was pleased with how his side defended and how his team performed, he still insists there is room for improvement and he has challenged the Saddlers to be more clinical.
He praised Adebayo for getting himself in a good position to score and is now looking for more consistency in his team’s attacking play.
“If he’s not there, he doesn’t score, does he? I think I have got really good forward-thinking players at the football club,” Clarke commented.
“We’ve just got to be a little bit more clinical at the right times and in the right areas but I’m sure with the games coming thick and fast we’ll sharpen up at that end and make sure that we’re still putting in the graft to make sure that we’re difficult to break down, which I thought we were excellent at.”
“They want to defend, they enjoy defending. I thought Dan Scarr got some vital headers when they threw the kitchen sink at us. For me I think we had to do more defending in that final 10 minutes than I’d have liked without any serious problems because we were not clinical enough in our final third play.”
The Saddlers now turn their attention to Saturday’s trip to Harrogate Town.