Two goals for Bakayoko in 3-1 success...
THE SADDLERS’ reserves ran out 3-1 winners against Oldham Athletic in our latest Central League West Division clash.
We took the lead straight from the kick-off when Amadou Bakayoko was played through and he stayed cool to slot home and open the scoring.
Shortly afterwards, our visitors had a free-kick which flew inches wide of the target.
There was a chance for Reece Flanagan who was played through only for his effort to be blocked by the ‘keeper who was alert to the danger.
With 14 minutes on the clock, Mal Benning did well on the left and his cross found Kieron Morris who fired over. Then a free-kick from Benning was pushed out by the ‘keeper as The Saddlers found ourselves in control.
A powerful drive from James McQuilkin was deflected over before Bakayoko was denied a second goal following a double save by The Latics’ ‘keeper.
Another positive burst from Benning saw him pull the ball back from the by-line into the path of Julian Gray who fired over from a good position.
It was a let-off for Oldham who then had Luke Simpson to thank for tipping over Bakayoko’s deft header.
With half-time approaching, Bakayoko bagged his second when he broke the offside trap before finishing neatly.
The final action of the half saw Emil Tansinda go close for Oldham, but Walsall were well worth our two-goal advantage.
The first real action of the second period saw Gray’s effort touched around the post and from the resulting corner, the ball came back in for Matt Preston to head home to make it 3-0.
A neat passing move ended with former Latics’ defender, Dean Holden, firing wide of the target.
With Rico Henry and Wes Rush on for Benning and Gray, there was a good treble save by Richard Jones to deny the visitors.
There was a booking for Preston for a foul on the edge of the area before Oldham snatched a last-gasp consolation goal when Jordache Walters was brave to beat Jones with a header.
“We found ourselves up against young but very enthusiastic and well-drilled opposition,” said reserve team manager, Richard O’Kelly. “We did the things we needed to and got an early lead.
“We created plenty of opportunities during the first period, but we tried to be a bit too precise at times. Generally speaking though, we bossed the game and got a deserved second to take us into the break with a two-goal cushion.
“Oldham upped the tempo in the second half and this is the part of the game where our young lads had to be organised and work out how to make things better and turn it around.
“It was a test they came through and we eventually grabbed a third goal.
“To their credit, our opponents kept going and made it a good game.”
WALSALL: Jones, George, Benning (Henry), Holden, Preston, McQuilkin (Kinsella), McKenzie, Flanagan, Bakayoko, Morris, Gray (Rush). Subs not used: Dallison, Lovett.