Johnstone's Paint Trophy: Walsall eye first Wembley appearance

Walsall manager Dean Smith and his Saddlers number two Richard O'Kelly
Walsall are now unbeaten in their last four matches under Dean Smith and Richard O'Kelly

Walsall manager Dean Smith admits it is hard not to think about the chance of a trip to Wembley after steering the Saddlers to the Johnstone's Paint Trophy northern area semi-finals.

The Saddlers are one of only four among English football's top 92 clubs never to have played at Wembley.

But they are now just two ties away following Tuesday night's 1-0 win over Sheffield United at Bescot.

"It would be fantastic. It's a chance to get to Wembley," Smith told BBC WM.

Saddlers in the Football League Trophy
Walsall have twice reached the regional final, losing over two legs to Bournemouth (1997-98) and Millwall (1998-99) in successive seasons.

"This and the play-offs are our best chances of getting there. I said to the players before they went out: 'You don't get too many chances to win a cup, don't turn it down'.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Smith on Walsall v Sheffield United

"I looked at the draw before the game and thought there's some good teams left in, but it's still an opportunity for us," added Smith, who played at Wembley himself in his days with Leyton Orient.

"We've had two ties so far in this and come through them both, so we shouldn't fear anyone."

Walsall's win, secured by a 55th-minute near-post header from Romaine Sawyers, stretched the Saddlers' recent unbeaten run to four games.

"We're starting to build some momentum now," he said. "I've got a squad who are competing. There are options all over the pitch and the players are determined to continue this run and play their part.

Que Sera, Sera - never been to Wembley!
Walsall are one of only four out of 92 clubs in the current top four divisions of English football never to have played at Wembley. The other three are Hartlepool United, Accrington Stanley and Crawley Town.

"Defensively we did really well. Paul Downing and James Chambers were solid, Adam Chambers was excellent in the middle of the park and we created some decent chances."

The one concern is nine-goal top scorer Tom Bradshaw, who was withdrawn at half-time with a tight hamstring and, with next Tuesday's FA Cup first-round replay at his former club Shrewsbury coming up, he will be assessed prior to Saturday's home game with Peterborough United.

Top Stories