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Dean Smith believes Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat will strengthen Walsall

23 March 2015

Dean Smith believes Walsall will become stronger following their 2-0 defeat to Bristol City in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Wembley.

Goals from Aden Flint and Mark Little secured the Robins’ success, with Walsall failing to break down their opponent’s solid rearguard.

But Smith, who became the first manager in the club’s 127-year history to lead them out at Wembley, remained upbeat.

“We feel we’re building.” he said in his post-match press conference.

“To come here, against a team who are top of the league, and be competitive but not have the quite the quality we normally have, was disappointing but we’ll move on.

“As staff and players, we’ll go back and analyse what we felt went wrong, and we’ll put it right. It’s a big learning curve. You become stronger if you learn from defeats like this and the adversities you come across, and today was one of them, and we’ll learn and become stronger.”

A crowd of 72,315 - the fifth highest in Football League Trophy history - watched the Saddlers’ first game at the national stadium, and Smith reserved special praise for the club’s travelling support.

Although he hinted that the occasion may have got to his players somewhat.

“We always knew this was a special occasion and we wanted to come here and embrace it.

“Our supporters certainly have - they’ve been fantastic. To get 30,000 down here today was an amazing achievement.

“We’re normally very good on the ball but today our use of the ball wasn’t quite good enough, and sometimes that happens.

“It could be [due to the occasion]. They’re young lads out there and they wouldn’t have been in front of this occasion before - 72,000 - and they handled it a lot better we did, looking at the game.

“We just needed something that would give us a little bit of momentum. Sometimes luck doesn’t go with you. We had the one that hit the post and bounced out - it [the luck] just didn’t go with us today."

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