Smith hails magical Emmanuel

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Football News

Walsall manager Dean Smith praised Argentinian midfielder Emmanuel Ledesma after his team came back from two goals down to beat Hartlepool 5-2 at the Banks's Stadium.

Smith, who was celebrating his 40th birthday, looked set for a severe headache when the visitors strolled into a two-goal lead through a brace from Colin Larkin. But Smith sent on Ledesma in the 55th minute and he totally transformed the game, scoring his first goal for the club on his way to earning the Man of the Match award.

"We needed a spark and (Ledesma) gave us that,'' said Smith, whose side are only inside the drop zone on goal difference.

Within four minutes Will Grigg had pulled one back with a fierce shot on the turn, before Ledesma crossed for Darren Byfield to head a leveller. Julian Gray fired the Saddlers ahead in the 77th minute before further goals from Manny Smith and Ledesma sealed a memorable success.

"Emmanuel came off the bench and I thought he was fantastic. I got him on straight away when we went two down because I thought he would make an impact and I was disappointed.

"Ledesma is a good player and I have seen him do that in training, and he can score goals. He is an exceptional player and their keeper made two great saves from him as well.

"He has great confidence. He can be frustrating at times because he tries the million dollar ball - there are times it comes off for him.''

He added: "I told the lads at half-time that the performance wasn`t good enough. It was like last week's performance at Yeovil in the first half and we never came to terms with Hartlepool's shape, with three at the back.

"But it was a fantastic second-half performance, and after our second goal we looked as if all the fear had been taken away from us and we played with a bit of freedom.

"We have given ourselves a fighting chance and must go on and keep the fans behind us and the only way to do that is by scoring goals."

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Yeovil Town
Dean Smith
Colin Larkin
League One
Julian Gray
Darren Byfield

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