Smith: Saddlers were fantastic

Smith: Saddlers were fantastic

Published Jan. 14, 2013 7:15 a.m. ET

Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye hopes that the Magpies have turned a corner after snapping their four-game losing run with a 0-0 draw at Norwich.

Cabaye returned to action after a two-month injury lay-off following groin surgery as a second-half substitute in the drab stalemate at Carrow Road.

The absence of the France international has coincided with a slump in form for the Premier League club, with Alan Pardew's side losing 10 of their 13 matches in all competitions.

Cabaye was delighted to be back in action and wants Newcastle to take the defensive resilience they showed against Norwich into their next Premier League game at home to fellow strugglers Reading on Saturday.


"When we started losing we just seemed to lose all our confidence. But we have got a draw here and it could prove to be a big point for us," he said.

"Now we can start to look forward again - starting at home to Reading next week. We defended well and looked solid, but we just have to take it step by step.

"All I wanted to do was get back again so I could help the team. It was very difficult not being on the pitch and playing the game I love.

"All I could do was sit in the stand and watch, not able to do anything to help. It was very sad for me.

"I am very happy to be back. I enjoyed getting back on the pitch again and we didn't lose the game. So it was a good day for the team and for me.

"The supporters were great as well and I have to thank them for the reception they gave me. I'm feeling OK now and I'm feeling confident. It was the right time for me to come back."

First-half goals from former Manchester United striker Febian Brandy and Paul Downing set Walsall on their way at Deepdale before James Baxendale made it 3-0 shortly after the break.

Bailey Wright scored little more than a consolation for Preston in injury time with North End now winless in three games and winless at home in the league in nine.

The Saddlers themselves were in a poor run of form before the turn of the year, failing to win in 16 between October 2 and December 15, and boss Smith believes they were unstoppable at Deepdale.

"I'm very happy. I'm pleased with the performance and pleased with the result," said Smith. "I thought we were really, really organised.

"Whoever we came up against, they would have found it hard to get through us. The two central midfielders were fantastic and the two centre-halves dealt with everything.

"To a man I thought we were excellent and very clinical in our finishing as well. It would have been nice to get a clean sheet but we came to get a win and that's what we've got.

"The upturn in form has been down to being consistent. We never changed our belief. We were having a poor run but it has just got better and better.

"We were consistent in our beliefs of what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it. I was consistent with the players and they were consistent with me."