Walsall: 'Special' start to season down to maturity, says Dean Smith

Dean Smith (right)
Smith (right) took Walsall to Wembley last season for the first time in their history

Walsall manager Dean Smith says his side's excellent start to the season is down to the squad's rapidly-developing maturity.

The Saddlers knocked Championship club Brighton out of the League Cup on Wednesday and have now won their last five games in all competitions.

"Five wins on the spin is a great feat," Smith told BBC WM 95.6.

"Our young players are a lot more mature now and that's showing in their performances."

Walsall's winning run has also seen them take 10 points from four games for second place in the early League One table, with leaders Gillingham only above them on goal difference.

Lucky 13 for Walsall
The Saddlers' win over Brighton sealed a place in the third round of the League Cup for the first time since the 2002-03 season.
Back then they beat Shrewsbury 1-0 and won at Nottingham Forest 2-1 before narrowly going out on penalties 5-4 at Blackburn, then a Premier League side, having drawn 2-2 after extra time.

They are also through to the third round of the League Cup for the first time since 2002 having seen off the Seagulls, with goals from Milan Lalkovic and Rico Henry, and Nottingham Forest in the first round.

"To beat two Championship teams is a bit special," said Smith, whose side now face Premier League champions Chelsea in the next round.

"The players are a lot more experienced having been through a lot of trials and tribulations over the last few years and have learnt from it.

"We have brought players through our system and picked up some from others' systems and they are now better players."

Rico Henry
Rico Henry scored his first senior goal in the League Cup win over Brighton