Walsall boss Darrell Clarke hailed his “magical match-winner” Wes McDonald after the winger’s sensational late strike capped a 2-1 comeback win over Crawley Town.
Former Birmingham City trainee McDonald, who has recently signed a fresh 18-month deal with his contract up in January, curled home from 20 yards in the 88th minute.
Josh Gordon’s cool finish had cancelled out Panutche Camara’s first-half opener for Crawley as Walsall recorded back-to-back home league wins for the first time this season.
Clarke said: “Wes can be a match-winner, we know the quality he possesses and he’s done that on a regular basis for us. He’s dangerous when he gets the ball at his feet and it was a great strike.
“When he fronts people up, he’s got a bit of magic in his boots to be able to find that. We’ve asked him to put goals to his game and he’s doing that.
“He had other clubs interested in him but I said to Wes he’s got a home here, the fans like him and we’re trying to build something. He’s a really good lad with a good work ethic.”
Victory kept Walsall 12th, eight points off the play-offs and Clarke added: “That’s 21 points from 11 games now – top-three form.
“I played the most attacking team I could have played today, with the injuries that we’ve got in the camp and I thought the boys did everything I asked of them on the front foot.”
Crawley slipped to 15th but wasted big chances as Ashley Nadesan missed a one-on-one at 1-0 before Ollie Palmer headed wide a glorious late chance to equalise.
Defeat was just Crawley’s second since John Yems took over on a short-term deal in December and he wants his coaching team’s future sorted sharpish.
Yems said: “We’ve got to get our own future sorted out before we worry about bringing in players. Hopefully we’ll be here next year but I need to know, it’s getting to that time now.
“It’s about upping the standards of everything and if the players can’t come along with what we are trying to achieve and go to the next level, then something has to change.
“We threw it away today. I thought for 20 minutes of that game the players were diabolical. It’s just so disappointing because we’ve ended the little run we were on.
“We have to defend right, we got into bad habits and you can see why certain players at this football club have seen certain managers off. And it’s not acceptable.
“It’s going to take a hell of a lot of hard work and refreshing of the squad. We’ve got the nucleus of a good squad but we need people consistently doing the right things.”