Walsall Head Coach Mat Sadler has praised the way Saddlers fans helped pull his players through tough periods and was frustrated not to come away with a result for them to celebrate after Saturday’s narrow defeat to Mansfield Town.
The Saddlers fell behind after 16 minutes but drew level early in the second half through Ryan Stirk.
Jordan Bowery scored what proved to be the decisive goal to earn the Stags three points.
Sadler was pleased with how his players regrouped after falling behind but also singled out the supporters who he felt gave the players an extra boost after the setback.
“They were brilliant, top drawer,” he commented.
“They’ve been with us all season; they’ve pulled us through some times when it’s been tough, like it was in the first half.
“Then you give them a moment with the equaliser and you want to give them another one but unfortunately it wasn’t to be. They’ve been unwavering in their support, we go again and we look to give them more special moments as it comes because they’ve earnt it and deserved it.”
Sadler hopes his team can learn from elements of the Mansfield defeat after the hosts got on top after their opener.
On a positive note, the Saddlers boss was pleased with how his team did manage to find a way to get a foothold back into the game.
“We got together, we tweaked it a little bit and I thought that gave us more control,” he said.
“It’s frustrating that the first goal is a set play and it lifts the lid on the place, takes the momentum in their favour and then they’re on the front foot and that was something we needed to halt.
“It’s a learning thing for the group, we need to ride those bits out because for too long in the first half after the goal, we were on the other side of some second balls and second contacts but we regrouped, got ourselves together and hit our straps in the second half for large parts of it.
“It’s frustrating that we fall the other side of a stuffy goal in the end. When you’re at the top end of the table, things like that do fall for you – it’s where we want to get to, it’s where we will get to and sometimes we have to ride out days like this to get to where we want to be.”
Walsall were without a number of first team players through injury, only naming six substitutes on the bench.
Sadler is hoping to get some bodies back soon but insists the injury list won’t be used as an excuse.
“We’ve taken a battering,” Sadler said.
“In terms of our centre-half area, at home we’ve got Priestley (Farquharson), Harry (Williams) and Oisin (McEntee).
“We’ve also got Rem (Oteh) and Freddie (Draper) so we’ve got some good players that are not in the team, you could argue five who would be really threatening the starting XI.
“We don’t feel sorry for ourselves, the lads gave absolutely everything against a good team with plenty of options and a fantastic squad that he has put together over the course of a few years.
“We wanted to be the first team this season to beat them and there were large parts of the game where it felt like that was going to come for us but unfortunately, we just fell the other side of that.
"We undoubtedly want to get those bodies back into the group and get ourselves back to full tilt sooner rather than later.”