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Dean Smith standing by his Walsall battlers

Sport | Published:

Boss Dean Smith today defended his Walsall battlers and insisted they will not change their style despite their shoot-out shocker.

The Saddlers crashed out of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy 6-5 on penalties to Port Vale last night – after blowing a 2-0 lead in normal time.

It was their third home loss on the spin after defeats to Leyton Orient and Carlisle but Smith insisted they will stick to their passing principles.

He said: "There are not many teams at this level who play the way we do at the moment and, when we do, we look a very good team.

"There's plenty of belief here in developing and educating players and progressing as a club. These defeats won't detract from what we are doing here and the way we go about things.

"I said to the lads they shouldn't take it as a defeat, although we lost on penalties.

"I don't class it as a home defeat when it's on penalties. We've had three home games and we've lost two in the league and I asked them if we should have won any.

"They felt we should have won against Leyton Orient and Saturday (a 2-1 defeat to Carlisle) could have gone either way. I can't fault the way they played."

Florent Cuvelier's penalty and Will Grigg's strike were cancelled out by Ryan Burge and Tom Pope before a dramatic shoot-out.

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George Bowerman, Andy Butler, Paul Downing, Jake Jones and Andy Taylor scored but the rest of the team missed – including goalkeeper Karl Darlow – with all 22 penalties taken.

Man of the match Darlow saw his effort saved by Sam Johnson after he had stopped four Vale spot-kicks.

Smith said: "We didn't this week but the lads practice penalties all the time. There were a few poor ones but there were good saves from the goalkeepers. I've seen better penalty shoot-outs."

Meanwhile, Adam Chambers is set to end his six-week injury lay-off by playing in the reserves' clash with Hull City tonight.

The midfielder has been out with a hamstring injury but could bit fit for Sunday's derby at Shrewsbury.

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