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SMITH: FIRST GOAL WAS CRUCIAL

29 August 2015

Gaffer on Blackpool rout...

SADDLERS manager, Dean Smith, admitted the first goal was crucial during the impressive 4-0 victory at Blackpool this afternoon.

Smith’s men started slowly against the struggling Seasiders, but opened the scoring on 25 minutes, courtesy of a well-taken goal from Romaine Sawyers.

Walsall ran riot in the second half, with Tom Aldred’s own goal, Sam Mantom’s header and Sawyers’ screamer securing a sixth successive win in all competitions.

Although the margin of victory was emphatic, Smith highlighted the opening goal as a turning point which swung the momentum in his team’s favour.

“We didn’t start the game particularly well for the first 20 minutes but we scored a goal from a break,” said Smith.

“It’s a kick down the middle, Rom’s won the first header, Jason’s put him in and he (Sawyers) has scored.

“That calmed us down a little bit. “Before the game, there was a lot of expectation on us to come here and win. No team rolls over for you.

“Just watching their game against Sheffield United last weekend, I knew it would be tough but that first goal settled us down.

“From there on we controlled the game and scored some really good goals.”

The Saddlers produced some of their finest attacking football of the season in the second-half rout – and Smith was full of praise for his players’ performance.

“The fluidity of the team is impressing me at the moment,” said Smith.

“We had Sam getting in the box and scoring with a header. Romaine is sometimes helping out the deep-lying midfielders and then he’s popping up with goals.

“The fluidity in the team is really pleasing, and the people on the bench are pushing me to get selected all the time; it’s a manager’s dream at the moment.

“Our game management is getting better and better, and we’re maturing all the time.

“We had to get a few passes in our half of the pitch first to draw them out before we could go and attack. And that’s another really pleasing aspect of our game – the time to increase the tempo to go and attack. We looked a real threat.

“I’m pleased Sam scored with his head because he could have had a couple with his feet.

“Romaine’s goal was something a bit special so I’m really pleased for him.”

Smith altered the team shape for the Blackpool trip - reverting to a 3-5-2 formation.

“Having watched Blackpool play, I felt that changing the system to a three at the back would suit us, and I was proved right,” said Smith.

“It’s always difficult making those decisions (leaving people out) because in the last two or three games, Milan Lalkovic has been our best player.

“But we’re doing well having horses for courses at the moment. They’re giving me real selection teasers.

“It’s great when things work out, but we know we have to be at our best every game.”

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