John Coleman said Accrington’s 2-1 win against Walsall was a “present for the fans” as they moved to within a point of the play-off places.
Eighth-placed Stanley took the lead after nine minutes when Jackson Smith could only parry Joe Pritchard’s shot into the path of Tommy Leigh and he slotted home his sixth goal of the season.
Walsall equalised in the fourth minute of added time at the end of the first half when Joe Gubbins was adjudged to have fouled captain Donervon Daniels in the area and Freddie Draper drilled home the penalty.
Stanley scored the winner in the 57th minute when Pritchard got the ball on the left and his cross evaded everyone and nestled into the far corner of the net.
Coleman said: “It’s great to get the win on board, that’s a present for the fans.
“You could see how hard everyone worked and we were very unlucky to be going in level at the break, as it wasn’t a penalty.
“But the lads were determined not to let anything hamper us from getting the win, that’s what we talked about before the game and we believed we could and thankfully we have.
“They are a great set of lads to work with. They have mine and the club’s culture and ethos. We play for each other, everyone puts the team first, they gave every last drop, they gave their all and fought for every ball. I’m proud of them.”
Coleman praised captain Pritchard – who scored and provided an assist – following his battle with injury problems.
“Joe is a very good captain, he organises the team well, he has a lot of confidence and he can deliver,” Coleman said.
Walsall manager Mat Sadler said: “There will be no throwing teacups as we have done fantastically over the last four games, but we were just not up to our standards today.
“The conditions were awful to play football in. We were sloppy at the start, which is not like us, but you can never question our willingness to keep working and keep going but we didn’t really settle down.
“We weren’t up to what we expect from ourselves, and that’s everyone, and that’s the most disappointing thing.
“In the key moments they had that bit of luck. I’m not sure if the first goal was offside and then, for the second goal, the ball has gone past everyone.
“We huffed and we puffed but didn’t have the ability to put our foot on the ball.
“The challenge for us now is how we react to that and we have to show a positive reaction. We have to dust ourselves down and put it right on Tuesday.”