Walsall must use the New Year as a “reset” button to improve their home fortunes said boss Darrell Clarke after the 10-man Saddlers held on to beat Leyton Orient.
Clarke’s side began 2020 with the worst home record in Sky Bet League Two but Josh Gordon’s fourth goal of the season put them on the path to remedying that with a 1-0 win.
The Saddlers lost full-back Cameron Pring to a second yellow card midway through the second half to finish the game with 10 men for the second match in succession.
But unlike Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Carlisle, this time they held out to move up to 15th in the table.
Clarke said: “The focus and the mentality has to be spot on when you are in those backs-to-the-wall situations.
“I thought we did it superbly today – I don’t remember Liam Roberts having a serious save to make.
“That’s 12 points from the last seven league games, two defeats in 13 (in all competitions), so hopefully we are moving in the right direction and we can have a successful 2020.
“We’ve been disappointed with our home return but you can only do something about that today and the New Year gives us a bit of a reset.
“We’ve won our first home game in 2020 – can we win more and be better at home? Because our away form is top seven, while the home form has been bottom six.
“We want to play on the front foot, get our fans off their seats and I thought today for 45 minutes we were very good and we could have had two or three goals.”
Orient failed to threaten an equaliser after Pring’s dismissal but boss Ross Embleton pinpointed the first half as their downfall as they slipped to 19th with just one win in 11 league games.
Embleton said: “I think the biggest frustration for me is that the game was pretty much our season in a nutshell so far.
“Underperforming and not quite competing in the first half, making errors and giving away poor goals and giving ourselves a lot to do in the second half.
“Every now and then you do get something out of it but you can’t keep banking on pulling a rabbit out of the hat in the second half and I think that’s what we’ve done on too many occasions this year.
“There were not enough shots on target. There were enough balls into the box but neither team troubled the other goalkeeper an outrageous amount.
“My focus recently has been to try to make us a little bit tougher to beat, harder to play against and stop conceding silly goals – but then what can happen is you lose your edge in the final third.”