Walsall Head Coach Michael Flynn lamented a lack of cutting-edge from his side as they were knocked out of the Papa John's Trophy after a midweek defeat to MK Dons at the Poundland Bescot Stadium.
The opposition had a strong start to the game, which the Saddlers rode out well, but the pendulum swung the way of MK Dons with a long-range effort from Henry Lawrence and a late goal from Nathan Holland.
Flynn was left frustrated at the lack of killer instinct in front of goal against quality opposition, where chances are limited.
“Let's not forget they were League One play-off finalists last season,” Flynn said.
“I know they have a couple of different players, but they still have the same principles and work ethic.
“I felt they started the game brightly, to be fair to them, and it took us a while to get used to, but once we did, we put them under a lot of pressure, put some good balls in the box, and we just didn't capitalise.”
Despite Walsall bowing out of the Papa John's Trophy, the Head Coach could draw some positives from the match, with valuable game time afforded to players who have only recently returned from injury and building up their fitness.
“Jacob Maddox, Danny Cashman and Liam Gordon, these players haven't had a pre-season, and we are trying to get them up to speed,” Flynn noted.
“We need everybody we can with the injury list we've had. Although (Tuesday night) wasn't the result we wanted, you could say there were some positives; there were no injuries, and players got minutes in the bank.”
The injury list is still a significant factor in squad selection, with academy players being given opportunities to show what they can do in training. Flynn highlighted the pathway into the first team for players, as Dan Baldwin was involved in the pre-match warm up with the squad.
“Dan was there and we had three academy players training with us because of numbers (of injuries)," he commented.
“I will do it (promote academy players), you see with Ronan Maher, he has come up and stayed with us. So it’s down to the players to work as hard as they can and keep impressing.”
Now the focus for the Saddlers and Flynn shifts to League Two football.
“We’ve got to do things as professionally as we can (in the Trophy) but also put the league first,” Flynn stated.
“And we have a tough game on Saturday against Sutton and then two home games.”