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Ward praises Leak after first league start of the season

17 January 2022

Walsall defender Stephen Ward felt Tom Leak deserved his opportunity and praised the way he acquitted himself during Saturday’s match against Mansfield Town.

The 21-year-old came in for his first league start of the season and his first appearance since November.

Ward believes Leak is a promising prospect. He’s been impressed by him in training and praised him for his performance at the One Call Stadium.

“I thought Tom did really well,” he said.

“He’s a great lad, a great prospect who trains really well and he deserved his chance and he grabbed it with both hands.

“Mansfield’s front two aren’t an easy pair to play against and I thought he acquitted himself well and he should be really proud of his own performance although he will be disappointed that we didn’t get the result which would have been nice.”

The Saddlers fell to a 2-0 defeat as a result of substitute Harry Charsley’s brace for the in-form Stags.

Ward is keen to ensure the team improve quickly after what was a frustrating afternoon in Nottinghamshire.

“It’s really disappointing to be honest,” he admitted.

“I don’t think there was much in the game.

“We understand that in the last two games we have started slow and we have let ourselves down, especially last week against Stevenage, with the competitive edge that we have. I thought we showed that in bucket loads.

“They are a difficult team to play against, they’re quite direct but I thought we stood up to that challenge and I think the three-minute spell between an unbelievable chance for ourselves where it gets cleared off the line, I don’t actually know how he has stopped it going in. Two minutes later, one falls to them in a similar position and he gets a clean contact on it and puts it in and then the whole feel of the game changes because I thought, especially in the first half, we were well on top.

“We looked more energetic but we just couldn’t create that one clear cut chance.

“Tyrese came close with the free-kick at the end of the first half but at the minute it just seems to be small margins and we need to get back to putting them in our favour, whether it’s to do with the basics or being more ruthless at both ends of the pitch.”

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