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Walsall players ‘still finding that belief of how good they are’ – Mat Sadler

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 14 Oct 2023

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Walsall boss Mat Sadler believes his Isaac Hutchinson-inspired Saddlers do not know how good they can become after the midfielder’s hat-trick helped them thrash high-flying Gillingham 4-1 in League Two.

Hutchinson scored three and set up Walsall’s other goal after Gills caretaker boss Keith Millen was sent to the stands for tripping winger Tom Knowles as he tried to take a throw-in.

Two fine finishes came from playmaker Hutchinson’s left foot, either side of slipping Freddie Draper in to slot home, and he sealed his treble with a late header from a Ross Tierney cross.

“Isaac will undoubtedly get the plaudits because he’s scored three goals,” said Sadler.

“But for me, the game was won in the midfield three – Ross, Oisin (McEntee) and Ryan (Stirk) were brutal and relentless. They just continuously ran over them. The engine room really hummed today.

“Isaac is a constant goal threat. Even if he’s not having his best day, he always provides a threat for us. He’s constantly supplying a source of creativity.

“There have been challenges, we’ve had injuries and suspensions and it’s been difficult but it came together today.

“They’re still finding that belief of how good they are and how good they can be because they are a young group but they are desperate to do well and improve.”

Sadler also had sympathy for his opposite number Millen after his dismissal.

“He’s a top bloke, a proper football man and he will hurt from that result and incident because I know the sort of person he is – I’m sure he will be gutted,” Sadler added.

Macauley Bonne’s close-range finish gave Gillingham hope at 3-0 down but they slipped to a sixth-straight away defeat.

Acting assistant Mark Moss admitted: “We’re bitterly disappointed. We have fallen short of the standards the first-team group has set themselves this season.

“We’ve got to bounce back next week and we’ve got the perfect game to do it against Notts County, at home, where we’ve been generally very good.

“Obviously we’ve got to address the away form. We’ve got to be better on the road.”

On Millen’s dismissal, Moss added: “I didn’t see it at the time, I was looking down at the iPad. I wouldn’t have thought he deliberately tried to trip the player, I don’t think he would do that.

“The referee has got his own perspective of it and it looks how it looks but I can’t see Keith doing that personally.”

Former Gills player Steve Bruce has emerged as a surprise candidate to replace the sacked Neil Harris but Moss says the interim coaching group is happy to fill in.

He added: “I’m sure the club will take their time over someone. They want to get the right person in and that’s the right way to do it.”

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