Walsall boss Dean Smith celebrates his 100th game in charge tonight hoping the FA Cup’s centuries-old magic can galvanise his team.
The Saddlers face on-the-rise Conference outfit Lincoln City in a first round replay which Smith accepts could be a key moment for his troubled team.
After a run of 10 games without victory, the early-season shine has dimmed but a second round home clash against the winners of the Slough-Mansfield replay beckons.
“The draw has been kind to us so that we are now in a position where were we able to win two home ties we would reach the third round,” said Smith.
“Financially the prize money will be most welcome and in terms of winning matches and moving through the rounds, this will help boost our confidence and galvanise the club. I believe that if we are able to repeat the performance level of Saturday, we will win this game.
“Lincoln will not surprise us. We know what’s coming at us and it is up to us to deal with it, defend the set-plays and the throw-ins. We did that pretty well in the first game and must do so again.
“They are in a good run of form and we respect that but I believe if we play to our capabilities we will go through.”
Asked about his arrival in the 100 club Smith believes he is a much better manager than the man who stepped in to deal with a relegation crisis two years ago.
“You are making decisions all the time and learning from them,” he said. “Another 100 games from now, I hope I am still helping the club progress, bringing players through and competing at the top end of the division. You learn all the time on this job.”
Full-back Andy Taylor trained yesterday but Smith is unlikely to plunge him straight back into the fray after hamstring trouble. Ben Purkiss continues to be sidelined while striker Will Grigg is away on international duty with Northern Ireland.
With key-creator Flo Cuvelier sidelined, those problems don’t help Smith deal with a rampant Lincoln who are full of confidence after an unbeaten eight-game run.
“The players fear nobody at the minute and understandably so,” said their boss Dave Holdsworth.