Boss heaps praise on young Saddlers...
SADDLERS Boss, Dean Smith heaped praise on his players after a thrilling 4-3 Capital One Cup win over Nottingham Forest.
Tom Bradshaw completed his hat trick with a stoppage time penalty to bring the curtain down on a heart-stopping night and book our place in the second round of the competition.
“It was a very dramatic night, full of entertainment,” smiled Smith. “We started the game really well and were much better on the ball than we were on Saturday.
“Technically we were very good and we got our midfielders out at every opportunity.
“To go two goals up was beyond our imagination but then we had to dig in and be resilient at times as well.
“Late on, emotions were wavering. At 3-1 I was thinking ‘can we go and rest Tom now and make a substitution?’
“Then they put Antonio on and score an unbelievable goal to get back in it.
“I was disappointed to concede the equaliser but was really pleased with our response, looking to go and get the winner and it was a nice little move to win the penalty.
“So I’m delighted.”
Smith singled out Tom Bradshaw for his goal-getting exploits and was quick to point out the number of young players who played their part in the victory.
“It took a lot of nerve for Tom to get up and take the penalty,” Smith explained. “He missed his last one and we spoke about his penalties and he told me where he was going to put his next one.
“I told him where I used to put mine and he stuck it in so I’m really pleased for him. He worked hard up there on his own in a different system.
“I made a few changes in personnel and it shows we’ve got strength in depth this season.
“You look at players like Reece Flanagan, Rico Henry and Kieron Morris and it’s so pleasing for me to see products of our Academy out there competing with Championship players.
“So full credit to the players tonight. This is a tough place to come and they’ve got some very good players as well so it’s a great win for us.”
Smith also paid homage to the 669 travelling supporters, who made the trip across from the West Midlands and were vocal throughout the game
“I have to mention the fans who were tremendous all night. They put some pressure on me this week by reminding me about our record against them,” he joked.
“Thankfully, that record is still in tact.”