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SMITH: BRADFORD WILL POSE A STERN TEST

27 November 2015

The Saddlers host the Bantams at the Banks's...

Walsall boss Dean Smith is expecting a stern test of his side’s promotion credentials when they host in-form Bradford this weekend.

The Saddlers slipped to fourth after a harsh 2-1 defeat at Swindon on Tuesday, while the Bantams climbed to sixth following a goalless draw against league leaders Coventry.

And with Phil Parkinson’s City unbeaten in ten and expected to challenge for promotion this season, Smith is anticipating a tricky fixture.

“They’re ten games unbeaten and have kept seven clean sheets on the spin,” said Smith.

“Phil has done really well there, he’s taken the cup competitions seriously and that has given him the funds to enable them to go out and put together a really good squad.

“They got to the cup final a couple of years ago and they’ll be up there at the end of the season that’s for sure.

“They’re strong, have goalscorers, and have craft in Billy Clarke.

“It’ll be a really tough game for us and we had two tough games against them last year – 0-0 at home and 1-1 away.

“But we’ve improved and if they’ve improved as well, then it’s going to be a really good game.”

Smith’s men will be targeting a return to winning ways this Saturday following a draw and a defeat against Sheffield United and Swindon respectively.

The Saddlers dominated large parts of both games - and Smith couldn’t fault his players’ efforts despite the results.

“You look back at the performance (at Swindon) and think what more can we do,” said Smith.

“We had a goal chalked off which shouldn’t have been, and that would probably have led to us going on to win the game.

“The annoying thing was that we knew we deserved to win the game. The last-minute goal was a sickener and left us shaking our heads.

“Their manager Martin Ling said we gave them a footballing lesson. We just needed a couple of things to go our way to win the game comfortably.

“And against Sheffield United, who have got some really good players, we made them look average at times, certainly for an hour.

“We’re disappointed but you’ve got to take the performances on with you.”

Midfielder Sam Mantom played an hour of Walsall’s 2-0 defeat against Stratford Town in the Birmingham Senior Cup on Tuesday, but is expected to miss out against Bradford.

Isaiah Osbourne remains sidelined with a knee injury.

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