Walsall Player-Coach Mat Sadler insists the Saddlers need to rise to the challenge that Harrogate Town will bring.
Brian Dutton’s side will play their first home game in three weeks after four consecutive away trips when they take on Simon Weaver’s Harrogate tomorrow afternoon.
On the back of two draws against Southend United and Grimsby Town, Sadler is keen for the team to build on their resilience and show what they can do in what he expects to be a difficult test at the Banks’s Stadium.
“I’ve never been part of a football match where the opposition have rolled over and allowed you to tickle their bellies and win the game, it doesn’t happen,” Sadler said.
“It’s an opportunity like every single game we’ve played and every single game we will play between now and the end of the season.
“It’s an opportunity at home to get the win, to move forward but one thing is for sure those lads in the Harrogate dressing room will be eyeing up their next fixture and desperate to do well for themselves so it will be a tough game and one we need rise to the challenge.
“We’ll need to show determination, grit, desire to run forward, to run back – we need to show that in spades on Friday and if we do that, we give ourselves an opportunity.
“The baseline has always been to work as hard as you can do, protect your goal as best as you can do, as a defender and when the opportunities come your way, try and take them.
“We’re doing better at protecting our goal, a clean sheet at Southend suggests that and a strange unfortunate goal against Grimsby which can sometimes happen. We have to set that baseline of being difficult to beat and showcase our stuff thereafter.
“It’s going to be a tough fixture, as is the one on Monday. We have to give that starting point of being resilient, tough to beat, really determined and then hopefully look forward to our attacking players coming to the party.”
Sadler has got a foot in both camps in terms of playing and coaching and he’s got good insight into the characters in the squad.
While he has seen good leadership from the experienced players in the squad, he’s also been impressed with the different leadership qualities some of the younger players have shown.
“I always think there’s different types of leadership,” he explained.
“In Sam Perry’s case, he’s a 19-year-old and five or six games into his EFL career and you’re seeing somebody who is taking the game by the scruff off the neck.
“He’s willing to put his head in when he needs to put his head in, make blocks, make tackles but he’s also willing to get on the football and spray passes and get us going so leadership in that form take someone who’s got that desire and courage to get on the football and Sam’s got that in spades.
“The you look at Tom Leak, there are times you want times that you’d rather shield them from. Leaky has come in at a tough time and he’s proved himself to be every inch the character he thought he was and could be so really pleased and proud of them pair.
"You look wider and Liam Kinsella, he probably goes under the radar a bit but we asked him to do a different job, albeit a job we knew he could do against Grimsby and he puts in another all-action performance and you look at Kinsella and think - the kid’s a leader in a different sense.
“From my eyes, there are people in there desperate to do well, desperate to get points on the board and desperate to win the next football match which is always the case and fighting in the same direction.”
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