Dean Smith today hailed his “magnificent” Walsall team after their stunning 3-1 win at Swindon Town.
An Ashley Hemmings brace, either side of a Sam Mantom strike, saw the Saddlers inflict a first home defeat of the season on the Robins in emphatic fashion.
The result moved Smith’s side into the League One top six at the expense of the hosts, who had gone into the game on a run of four straight wins but had just Nile Ranger’s late consolation to celebrate.
In truth, the Saddlers would have won by more were it not for home keeper Wes Foderingham.
“I thought we were magnificent,” said Smith. “I’m actually fuming about their goal because I didn’t think we deserved to concede.
“We could have been out of sight. Their keeper was fantastic and was probably man-of-the-match.
“We hit the crossbar and scored three really good goals but it took a lot of discipline from the players because we knew we would have to be patient at times, with how they move the ball.
“I thought Adam Chambers, Nicky Featherstone and Sam Mantom were fantastic in the middle of the park.
“To a man, everyone did their job.”
Smith’s decision to recall midfielder Nicky Featherstone in place of forward Romaine Sawyers, despite the latter’s goal and performance in Saturday’s win over Stevenage, paid dividends as the Saddlers controlled the midfield.
They were on top from the word go and deservedly took the lead on 17 minutes when Hemmings rifled home a shot from the edge of the box.
Some excellent saves from Foderingham kept Swindon in it at the break but Mantom increased the advantage within two minutes of the restart and Hemmings sealed it 12 minutes from time, before Ranger headed home late on.
“In our past four trips away from home we were unbeaten with Nicky in the team and he is an excellent footballer. It was always in my mind to change it,” said Smith.
Walsall will send a development side tonight to Rushall Olympic’s Dales Lane ground, where they face Continental Star in the Birmingham Senior Cup first round.
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