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Matt Gray delighted with Sutton display after finally winning against Walsall

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 7 Oct 2023

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Matt Gray was proud as punch with his Sutton players after they hammered Walsall 4-0 at Gander Green Lane.

The U’s dragged themselves off the foot of Sky Bet League Two table with a first win since the opening day of the season.

Harry Smith will get the plaudits after his deadly double after Omari Patrick opened the scoring, while Joe Riley’s own goal helped the cause.

“It was exciting, wasn’t it? It was good to watch,” beamed Gray.

“Of course it’s a relief. It has been a tough run of games and a real mixed bag of games.

“I don’t want to reflect on too much as the real emphasis has been on the togetherness of the club: the supporters, the sponsors, the board and the staffing.

“And the players who go on and put on a performance like that who have always been so committed, have trained really well and are fully on it.

“It was a Matt Gray Saturday night performance right there: front foot, aggressive, full of character, energy and real threat for everything in our game — the delight of a 4–0 win.

“It was a ‘back to us’ performance and that was the most pleasing thing, let alone the scoreline.

“We were very much on the front foot in the first half and full of energy. As the balls came into the box: some of the finishes, some of the movement with the playing and attacking half was just brilliant. I’m really pleased.

“It’s important that we get the first goal. A lot of people say getting the first goal is key. It won’t always win you the game, of course, but the first goal is massive. It was great to get that after five minutes today.”

Walsall boss Mat Sadler was left shell-shocked after his side were hammered.

“For 45 minutes, we couldn’t defend our penalty area,” he admitted.

“I think it was there for everybody to see and we were quite clearly prepared for what we expected to happen in the game; it did and we couldn’t handle it.

“I think the first goal came from a free-kick which came from the long throw as it started into it. The second goal came directly from the long throw. And then the third was a free-kick.

“We just couldn’t deal with their set-piece players at all in the game. If it was anything football-wise or tactics wise then we could talk about it.

“But we purely couldn’t defend that penalty area. That was it in a nutshell.

“And when it’s like that, I stood there on the sidelines thinking that it’s very difficult to know what to change tactically in the middle of that. It was an experience that I don’t intend to endure happening again.

“You don’t come up against many teams throughout the season that are as direct as that. But this was a plan that they clearly adopted and it was effective for them today.

“In terms of the preparation, sometimes you have to have bravery about you. I always say this about long throws: it’s not about the first thing that happens, it’s about the second. You have to be brave about that.”

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