Walsall boss Darrell Clarke admitted his side had “got away with one” after they broke their draw habit with a narrow 1-0 win over Crawley.
Player-coach Mat Sadler fired home from close range with 16 minutes left against his former club to give the Saddlers – who have drawn seven of 11 – a third win of the season, all by the odd goal.
Tom Nichols almost rescued a late point for Crawley with a header that hit the post, while the visitors also struck the upright through Tyler Frost in the first half.
“My lads never like to seal a comfortable win, I think they want me in an early grave,” said Clarke, after Walsall climbed to 12th.
“A second goal would certainly have helped and we got away with one there.
“But we had four key players out of the starting XI with injuries and I thought the lads applied themselves very well. This season is going to be more of a squad game than any other.
“You have to find ways to win. We’ve been frustrated with the amount of draws we’ve picked up but when you look at the bigger context, it’s one defeat in 16 if you count last season.
“Six wins, nine draws, one defeat. That’s going in the right direction. Yes, we would have liked a few more of those draws to be wins but that’s a good run.
“We had 15 points after 17 league games last season and finished nine points off the play-offs when the season was curtailed. So, for me, the positive is we’re on 16 points after 11 games this season.”
Crawley are unbeaten at home but have lost four out of six on their travels and dropped to eighth.
Reds boss John Yems said: “How we have not got something out of the game, I do not know.
“But we never stopped the cross coming into the box yet again, like we’ve been saying all season.
“We’ve got to improve. If we don’t improve, that will happen to us more than it won’t.
“I was impressed with the desire. I get impressed with the fact we try and all those things but how can you be impressed when you lose 1-0?
“We’ve got to learn from it. We’ve been on a great run but it’s no good saying what we could have done. We never scored. They scored.
“I don’t know what the stats were but if we don’t stop crosses coming into the box, we deserve to get beat in the end.
“No excuses whatsoever. We had a go but made a fateful mistake from a ball coming into the box and they scored from it.”