Express & Star

Dean Smith: It's a team effort for Walsall

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Manager Dean Smith hailed Walsall's team performance after they beat Coventry 2-1 in a pulsating Midlands derby.


Goals from Anthony Forde and Tom Bradshaw were enough to earn the Saddlers a fourth straight victory in all competitions, jumping past the visitors and up to second in League One in the process.

A thunderbolt from Jacob Murphy saw the visitors briefly threaten a fightback, but Smith felt the character shown by his side was key.

He said: "It was a very good performance. There are always mistakes which creep into a performance but it was our reaction today, to everything which happened, that really pleased me.

"Sometimes you have to hold your hands up, their goal was a wonderful strike but our reaction to it was pleasing because we just went and got back on the ball and passed it again."

While Sam Mantom and Milan Lalkovic both impressed in midfield, Smith felt it was wrong to single out any one player for praise.

He said: "Singling players out, it is tough. Today I have put Romaine Sawyers in.

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"I think John Fleck is one of the best players in this league and Romaine did a job for the team today to stop him playing.

"I think he can pick a pass all day long and Romaine went out to stop him playing, which takes a lot of discipline."

Smith was also impressed with how his team were able to neutralise the threat posed by League One top scorer Adam Armstrong.

The 18-year-old striker, on loan from Premier League Newcastle, hit the bar with a free-kick but was otherwise kept in check.

Smith added: "The defence had to be at it because they have some really good players.

"I think Neil (Etheridge) has made one save in the first half from Murphy but other than that we have kept it really quiet, apart from the goal. Defensively, I was really pleased with us.

"They changed their system at half-time to combat what Adam Chambers was doing. Anything in front of our defenders he just mops up and there were a lot of good performances out there."