Walsall players hailed after Checkatrade Trophy triumph
Assistant manager Andy Davies praised the attitude of Walsall’s players after they secured a 3-1 victory over Middlesbrough under-21s in the Checkatrade Trophy.
On a night that saw Walsall record their lowest post-war attendance, only 702 fans - which included just nine visiting supporters - watched the cup clash at the Banks’s Stadium.
Controversial changes imposed by the Football League that have allowed Premier League and Championship sides to enter under-21 teams into the tournament meant fans continued to stay away.
Davies though was pleased with his team’s performance with Jack Fitzwater, Maz Kouhyar and Andy Cook getting the goals in what was a comfortable victory.
“We were delighted with the attitude the players showed,” he said.
“We have got a good group of players in there - their attitude is never questionable.
“But these games - where there aren’t many supporters in the stadium - you have got make sure your attitude is right.
“I thought they were all first class. Everybody.”
The victory means Walsall have now won both their matches in Northern Group E with one clash against Port Vale still to come.
“Getting the win was the most important thing for us and we started the game well,” Davies continued.
“We got ourselves two goals in front and created a number of chances to increase that as well.
“The 2-0 scoreline is one of them where the next goal is always important. Middlesbrough got that one.
“But for our lads to settle down get the third late on was pleasing.”
Manager Dean Keates used the game to give much needed minutes to some members of his squad.
But he also awarded a debut to 17-year-old Alfie Bates in central midfield
And Davies said the teenager can be proud of the performance he put in,
“He looked very accomplished,” the assistant boss added.
“He has trained with us for a number of weeks now and this was an opportunity to get him involved.
“He did great. It just shows there is a pathway there. He can be proud of his performance.
“And so can all the young players who came in, they more than held their own.”
Meanwhile, striker Josh Gordon revealed after the game he broke his nose in the cup clash.