MATT TOASTS GLORY WEEK
MATT PRESTON has had a week to remember, but the promising defender is convinced it could get even better for him and Walsall.
The 21-year-old enjoyed the moment of his career last Saturday when he climbed off the bench to set up an 89th-minute leveller for Tom Bradshaw against Colchester, before slamming home the winner four minutes into injury time.
Just three days later, the celebrations continued for Preston as he signed a one-year contract extension at the Bescot Stadium.
This has been a whirlwind season for Preston as the defender, who has been with the Saddlers since he was 16, was handed a first start in a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat to Morecambe in September.
But, with Walsall heading into the busy Easter weekend outside the automatic promotion places only on goal difference, Preston is keeping the champagne on ice, with plenty more celebrations still possible for the Saddlers.
“It has been a crazy but good few days,” said Preston, whose contract had been due to expire in the summer.
“We had been talking about the contract before the game, but maybe the game against Colchester was the extra bit I needed to get it done!
“This club is great for giving young players the chance and there is a great atmosphere here. I’m delighted to be staying, though I know there is a lot I can still work on and a lot the club is still playing for.
“The club means a lot to me. And, in all my time here, I think we are the best-placed we have ever been.
“The squad we have and the coaching staff are great, and it’s a great atmosphere to be in.
“It would be a great achievement to win promotion to the Championship and I think, if we keep performing, we can definitely achieve it.
“My goal against Colchester could be crucial at the end of the season. Momentum is a big thing so we need to keep winning games.”
Preston described his winner against the U’s as if Walsall had just triumphed at Wembley.
But, if it was down to caretaker manager Jon Whitney, the young centre-back might never have experienced such a high.
Preston was sent up front late in the game, not by Whitney but by his team-mates, something for which the defender will be forever grateful.
“I was told by a few of the senior players to push on and try a different approach to the game because we weren’t getting much joy,” added Preston, who replaced the injured James O’Connor after 18 minutes.
“I just went up there and tried to do something. Thankfully, I flicked on a header for the equaliser and got the winner.”