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League One

Boss hails young Saddlers

9 September 2012

Walsall manager Dean Smith praised his young team for the way they defended a slim 1-0 lead against a more experienced MK Dons side to earn their first home league win of the season.

After central defender Dean Holden scored his first goal for the club in the 17th minute, the visitors dominated the game but simply could not make their territorial supremacy count.

Smith said: "It was a really good performance against a very good team. I told the lads they would be judged on how they played against MK Dons because I expect them to be in the top six this season."

Last week Walsall conceded two goals to Brentford at home in the last four minutes and had to settle for a point, but Smith said: "We didn't sit as deep this time, and we didn't carry any players. Every player put in a performance."

Dons manager Karl Robinson believes his side will turn things round quickly and make better use of the chances they create.

Told that his men had forced 15 corners during the game, Robinson said: "It was not a case of things going wrong, we just didn't take our chances. But credit to Walsall, some of their last-ditch defending was remarkable.

"We never had one foul in the first half. I've never seen a match where a team hasn't had a foul, and we had all the ball. One of my lads (Darren Potter) could have gone down when tackled in the box in the second half and we would have had a penalty, but he was honest.

"It's disappointing for our fans who have now seen us twice in a week (against Northampton in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy on Tuesday night) and got nothing. Now the players have put pressure on themselves for the next two games."

Robinson added: "There have been some shock results in this division, and Yeovil, who we play next week, lost to Bournemouth. So many teams can beat each other - Walsall have beaten us

"If you don't take your chances the back four start getting disappointed and the home fans get confident. But we shall turn that pressure into goals."

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