Boss happy with challenge in 0-0 draw with the Saddlers.Manager Paul Cox was happy that his players were given a tough challenge in today’s goalless draw with Walsall at One Call Stadium.
In our final pre-season outing before next Saturday’s season-opener at Northampton Town, clear-cut chances were few and far between on a mild afternoon in North Nottinghamshire.
New signing Simon Heslop impressed in midfield, whilst goalkeeper Sascha Studer produced a string of good saves to register his third clean-sheet in four outings.
Speaking shortly after the final whistle, our boss said: “I think all of the pre-season games have been good work-outs. I’ve learned about individuals and I’ve learned about the group as a whole.
“Dean [Smith, Walsall manager] has put together a quality side and when they were in possession, they asked questions of our shape and our sharpness.
“We kept a clean-sheet, but I was probably a little bit disappointed of us going forward today.
“We had to make big decisions. (Liam Hearn) got a start and 45 minutes, but we don’t want to rush him, and we left ‘Rheady’ (Matt Rhead) out, because he’s not going to be available for next Saturday.”
“[Overall], I think there were loads positives and a load of things we could improve on.
“I sound like a scratched record, but the group are honest, they want to work hard, they’re taking on board what we’re trying to instil in them and it was another good workout for us.”
Only a handful of points separated a cluster of teams in Sky Bet League Two in 2013/14, and, looking ahead to the new season, our boss is predicting that the division will be equally as tight this time around.
“There’s a lot of clubs that have strengthened [during the summer] and I think the league will be tougher as a whole, but I’m really positive about this group of players,” continued Cox.
“They’re working hard and in terms of how long I’ve had one or two of them, the learning-curve [that they’ve shown] has been immense and they’ve grasped the concepts that we’ve been trying to get through.”
He added: “I think the boys just want some proper football now and we’re looking forward to August 9th.”
A full interview with Paul Cox will be available on Stags Player later this evening. To subscribe, click here.