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SMITH LAUDS "EXCELLENT" TEAM PERFORMANCE

23 August 2015

Gaffer's take on Coventry win...

WALSALL manager, Dean Smith, lauded an “excellent” team performance after his in-form side overcame Coventry 2-1 in a pulsating West Midlands derby.

Goals from Anthony Forde and top-scorer Tom Bradshaw gave the Saddlers a fourth successive victory in all competitions – a result which Smith believes was richly merited.

“We played some very good football against a good team and I thought we fully deserved the victory,” said Smith. “It was a cagey first 20 minutes with both teams trying to suss each other out. But then in the second half, we took control of the game and deservedly came away with the three points.

“You have to work very hard in every game in this league. It’s a tough league but I’ve got players playing with a lot of confidence. I’ve got some good players here at the moment and that showed today. It’s wrong to single one player out because there were some passages of play that were excellent.”

Forde opened the scoring with a cool finish five minutes before half-time, before Bradshaw volleyed home the Saddlers’ second shortly after the resumption.

“We scored at crucial times,” admitted Smith. “Both were good finishes. Fordey slotted the first one in really well. And then there was some great work from Milan Lalkovic out wide, he’s worked the keeper and Tom’s done what he does best and put the ball in the back of the net.”

Coventry responded almost immediately, though, through Jacob Murphy’s sensational 25-yard effort.

“It was a fantastic strike,” said Smith. “Sometimes you’ve got to hold your hands up and say ‘well done’ – and this was one of those occasions.

“But it was our reaction to that goal that pleased me most. We got back on the ball and kept moving it and created a few more chances. We probably should have scored a few more goals with the chances we had.”

Victory maintained the Saddlers’ unbeaten start to the 2015/16 campaign and lifted us above opponents Coventry and into second place in League One – level on points with new leaders, Gillingham.

“It’s been a really good start but that’s all it is,” commented Smith. “We need some consistency, which we didn’t have last season. It’s always nice to have an unbeaten start. The games come thick and fast, I’ve been using the squad and I’ll be continuing to do that because we have to.”

Championship high-flyers Brighton are next up for Smith’s Saddlers on Tuesday evening, in what promises to be an intriguing Capital One Cup second round tie. Walsall disposed of Nottingham Forest in round one, and the gaffer is now hoping to claim another second-tier scalp.

“It’s two in-form teams coming up against each other because they’re on fire as well,” Smith added. “They won again (1-0 against Blackburn) and are unbeaten. One of the unbeaten runs will have to go on Tuesday, hopefully it’ll be Brighton’s.”

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