TONY Mowbray paid tribute to strike star Marvin Emnes after the Dutchman’s clinical hat-trick steered Middlesbrough into the second round of the Carling Cup last night.
Emnes followed up his first-half brace with a second-half penalty against 10-man Walsall to take his tally to four already this season after he also netted on the opening day of the Championship season.
Boro’s progression extends their sequence of not having exited in the first round of the League Cup since 1985, but for League One Walsall it now represents their worst ever run in the competition having been eliminated at the first hurdle for a fifth successive season.
Mowbray enthused: “Emnes has the talent and technique to get the goals for us.
“We have to get him in the right positions to score for us and his second, even if it was a great ball from Justin Hoyte, was what we want to see more of.
“He showed he has that technique to score goals and it’s that sort of talent tha makes the difference.”
Mowbray made five changes to the XI who drew 2-2 with Portsmouth on Saturday – Danny Coyne starting between the posts to make his 500th career appearance.
But it was Saddlers counterpart Dean Smith who was forced into an early reshuffle after just 12 minutes when midfielder Adam Chambers, match-winner on the opening day against former club Leyton Orient, was dismissed for a two-footed challenge on Richard Smallwood.
And it took Boro little time to capitalise as Emnes fired a low effort into the bottom corner from 18 yards after the hosts had failed to deal with a ball from the right.
Emnes doubled both his and Boro’s advantage after 37 minutes, converting Justin Hoyte’s left-wing cross in style.
And the tie was over as a contest seven minutes after the break as Smallwood was brought down in the area by Kevan Hurst, leaving Emnes to convert his third from the spot and walk home with the match ball.
Meanwhile, Mowbray is eager to keep hold of defender Matthew Bates despite interest from Premier League newcomers Swansea City.
Walsall: Walker,Westlake,Butler,Lancashire,Sadler, Gnakpa (Peterlin 14),Chambers,Taundry,Hurst, Jarvis (Bowerman 81),Macken (Nicholls 46). Subs Not Used: Grof,Smith,Beevers,Paterson. Sent Off: Chambers (12). Booked: Walker,Hurst. Middlesbrough: Coyne,McMahon,Hines,McManus,Bennett,Hoyte, Bailey (Park 64),Martin,Smallwood,Emnes (Luke Williams 56), Zemmama (Miller 20). Subs Not Used: Ripley,Halliday,Grounds,Franks. Booked: Bennett. Goals: Emnes 17,37,52 pen. Att: 3,564 Ref: Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire).