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Walsall boss Dean Smith blames slow start for defeat

4 January 2015

Walsall manager Dean Smith blamed his team's slow start which cost them all three points in a 2-0 defeat to hard-working Midland rivals Coventry City.

The Sky Blues missed a fourth-minute penalty then took the lead in the sixth minute with the Saddlers left wondering what had hit them.

Smith said: "I'm angry about the first 10 minutes and how we started the game. It gave them [Coventry] a big lift, and we should have scored with the chances we had in the second half.

"If we had scored at any stage in the game I think we would have gone on to win it comfortably.

"But it shows how far we have come when Coventry come here and try to hang on to 1-0, then ended up getting a second from a set-piece near the end."

Coventry were awarded the early penalty when Romaine Sawyers needlessly brought down Sky Blues skipper Jim O'Brien as he was running away from goal, but Marcus Tudgay saw his fierce low spot-kick blocked by Walsall goalkeeper Richard O'Donnell

Two minutes later, however, O'Brien put the Sky Blues ahead with a magnificent angled shot from 25 yards, then O'Donnell had to make a couple of decent saves to prevent the visitors building on their lead.

Walsall dominated the second half and both Anthony Forde and Michael Cain hit the woodwork before, three minutes from the end, Tudgay atoned for his penalty miss by heading in O'Brien's corner to finish the contest

Coventry manager Steven Pressley praised the performance of his team who were missing several key players through injury.

Pressley said: "We had a terrific start to the game, not only scoring but also having a number of other opportunities against one of the best sides in our league.

"We were under no illusions about how difficult the game would be.

"We had to make a number of enforced changes and when you take that into consideration, and the form of Walsall, it's a wonderful result.

"We have now kept five clean sheets in the last eight games.

"It was a really good game played with real intensity. Walsall have great unity about them and are an energetic team and we knew we had to match them in that respect."

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