First home pre-season friendly ends in defeat...
THE SUMMER sun was shining as The Saddlers stepped out resplendent in our new yellow third kit.
Five trialists were included in Dean Smith’s starting line-up for this first home pre-season friendly whilst a further four were named amongst the substitutes.
It was an evenly-matched start to the proceedings with Frank Nouble seeing a header land well wide from an Anthony Forde cross for Wolves before Jamie Paterson had a couple of opportunities at the other end which the visitors managed to defend.
The opening goal arrived on 23 minutes when a header back to David Grof lacked sufficient pace and Nouble, who came close to joining Walsall on loan last season, was able to lift the ball over an exposed David Grof and into the net.
There was another opening for Paterson just before the half-hour when he twisted and turned on the right before firing well wide of the target.
The advantage was doubled when Michael Kightly’s ball in from the right found substitute, Adam Hammill who drove home beyond Grof.
Hammill had another chance shortly afterwards when he picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area and got in a low strike that Grof did well to gather.
With half-time approaching, Adam Chambers bravely won the ball in midfield to set up an attack that ended with James Baxendale seeing his effort saved by De Vries in the visitors’ goal.
It was to be the last action of the opening period as The Saddlers went in trailing by two goals to nil.
There were a raft of half-time changes with Walsall introducing eight players and Wolves 11.
The opening exchanges of the second period saw an early chance for Connor Taylor who showed pace before firing over.
An instinctive block by Grof from close range saw him deny Kevin Doyle following an inviting ball that was delivered into the danger zone from the left.
The third goal came on 67 minutes when Kevin Doyle slotted home. In the wake of the goal, first-year professionals Malvind Benning and Ben George came on for Peter Gilbert and Ben Purkiss respectively.
Saddlers huffed and puffed without really testing Carl Ikeme.
With just under ten minutes to go, Kieron Morris came on to replace Aaron Williams.
A foul on Stephen Hunt by Dean Holden gave Wolves a free-kick in a dangerous position which Nenad Milijas fired goalwards and forced Grof into a save as he beat the ball away.
Malvind Benning defended well in front of his own goal late on as Wolves surged forward and from the resulting corner, Grof saved well from a stinging drive from Milijas.
There was a good opening for former Wolves man, Ashley Hemmings in the final minute as he found a way through the heart of the visitors’ rear-guard only for Ikeme to be alert to the danger to block.
It was to be the last action of the game as Walsall went down to a 3-0 reverse.
WALSALL (first half): Grof, J. Chambers, Gilbert, Butler, Purkiss, Featherstone, A. Chambers, Baxendale, Grigg, Paterson, Jones.
WALSALL (second half): Grof, Gilbert, Purkiss, Downing, Holden, Cuvelier, Sammons, Hemmings, Taylor, Williams, Torres.