Kenny Jackett believes Wolves just about deserved their penalty progress in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy against Walsall tonight – but paid tribute to the Saddlers who twice came from behind to take the game to spot kicks.
Wolves started impressively with Liam McAlinden finishing off a fine fifth minute move on his debut, but after failing to add to the lead Walsall took advantage with former Molineux striker Ashley Hemmings heading home an equaliser shortly after the break.
Bakary Sako restored Wolves’ lead by converting the rebound after his penalty was saved, but again Walsall hit back, substitute Troy Hewitt firing home another leveller five minutes from time.
With the game going straight to penalties after full time, another debutant Aaron McCarey proved the hero with two excellent saves, as Bjorn Sigurdarson, Sako, Matt Doherty and David Davis all found the net convincingly to seal Wolves’ passage.
“It was a really good game of football and I think both sides should be credited for that because sometimes the early rounds of this competition can be a little bit laboured,” said Jackett.
“It wasn’t like that tonight – it was a very good match.
“I did think overall we deserved to win.
“We played some good football at times and I think we are on the right lines in terms of what we are doing - we created some very good chances but didn’t put them away.
“We could have been more than a goal up at half time but while you only have a one goal lead you are always a bit open at the back.
“Then at the end as always happens credit to Walsall they kept going and came from behind twice to get back into the game.
“For long periods of the game we showed good control but were disappointed with the goals we gave away as Walsall didn’t create that many chances to get two goals.
“But they did give us problems particularly in the latter stages of the game when I felt we ran out of steam.
“In the last 15 minutes we were tiring a bit and didn’t have the substitutions to change it in the way we did in Saturday’s game.
“We should have maybe closed it out at 2-1 and shown a bit more devil in our defending.
“Matt Doherty, who has had an excellent game again tonight, has headed one straight across his own goal and the lad Hewitt has finished it well.
“We made seven changes from Saturday and at times it showed defensively where we were disjointed.
“We did play good football for long spells but just failed to nail it at the end.
“But we kept going and did the job and I’m very pleased to get through with some excellent penalties and two great saves from Aaron McCarey.
Jackett was delighted with the overall display of McCarey, making his first senior appearance for Wolves against the club where he enjoyed a fine loan spell last season.
“Big credit to Aaron McCarey – it was his first appearance for us and as a young goalkeeper he was outstanding,” he added.
“He has looked very capable in training and I was pleased to see him in a competitive fixture following from a very good loan spell at Walsall last season.
“It’s a very important point for us to be able to bring other players in to play.
“We had four players from Saturday away on international duty and a further two injured so made a number of injuries.
“There were a lot of changes for us but some opportunities for some fringe players and some young lads like McCarey, Jack Price and McAlinden.
“It is always a natural progression for younger players to move up and play in the first team and games like this tonight are a perfect example when other players are away.
“For me it shows what the squad is like because we are going to need that squad as we go through the season to do what we want to do.
“There were some interesting performances and, when you win, it’s always a good evening!
“The fans will enjoy the result and we play Walsall again in two weeks time.
“That will be another keenly contested game as all local derbies are.”