Walsall Head Coach Brian Dutton was proud of his team’s fight and spirit despite suffering late heartbreak against Crawley Town on Tuesday night.
The Saddlers looked to be heading for a 1-0 victory after Emmanuel Osadebe’s second half penalty but the Reds were awarded a spot kick of their own in the 96th minute which was converted by Tom Nichols.
Dutton was frustrated with the decision to award Crawley a penalty.
He feels that his team have been let down by refereeing decisions but he was pleased with how his players went about their business at the People’s Pension Stadium on Tuesday night.
“I’ve had to go in there and after conceding a sucker punch but I’ve got nothing but admiration for them for what they did out there,” Dutton said.
“The purists wouldn’t have enjoyed it, it was an old-fashioned League Two game on a cold, windy night in Crawley where you needed men and you needed to stand up and be counted and they gave that, they gave me so much.
“The running stats are through the roof, they’re putting their bodies on the line and we’re having to roll James Clarke out there, probably too soon from injury and we’re having to roll Sinco out.
"They’re absolutely giving me everything and I love them to bits for it and we’re being let down by officiating.
“I made a mistake in the previous game of not sending enough men out there against Barrow.
“I didn’t do that last night, I asked men to be out there and give me an honest performance full of fight and spirit for the badge and I got that. We lacked quality at times, it was really windy but what we did do was stand up and be counted so to be sucker punched again on the line is a very bitter pill to swallow.”
One boost for the Saddlers was the return of captain James Clarke who returned from a 10-week injury lay off and Dutton was delighted with Clarke’s display.
“He was an absolute man mountain out there,” he commented.
“He’s struggling, you can see he’s not 100 per cent but his guile and experience got him through.
“He and the rest of the boys were man mountains and they represented their families and the football club so well, they gave everything.
“To be let down by another shocker of a decision, I’m gutted for them because they deserve so much better.”
The Saddlers now turn their attention to Saturday’s trip to Bolton Wanderers which will be shown live on iFollow.
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