Convincing victory for youthful second-string...
A YOUTHFUL Saddlers' reserve team ran out convincing 3-0 winners against Shrewsbury Town at a chilly Scholars Ground.
We took the lead within the opening ten minutes when Reece Flanagan was felled inside the area and Billy Clifford stepped up to convert from the spot.
It was a lively start by Walsall and we had claims for another spot-kick waved away soon afterwards.
There were a couple of chances for our visitors as firstly Matt Preston defended well on the edge of the area before Scott Vernon blasted over.
With 25 minutes on the clock a defence-splitting pass set Jordan Murphy racing away and as his progress was halted, the referee pointed to the penalty spot for the second time. On this occasion, Kieron Morris stepped up only to see his effort saved, however, within minutes Morris had found the net with a sweet strike from distance to make it 2-0.
As we approached half-time, Craig MacGillivray did well to keep out a deflected effort that almost looped into the net before denying Ashley Vincent's low drive.
The last action of the half saw Clifford drill an effort just wide from distance.
There was a lively start to the second half for The Saddlers, much in the same vein as the opening period. Murphy had the first opportunity as he flashed a shot just wide of the target.
Then a sweeping move ended with Rico Henry firing straight at the 'keeper.
As The Shrews started to get back into the game, MacGillivray did well with a couple of smart stops in quick succession before the third goal arrived for Walsall with 15 minutes to go as Flanagan found the net to kill the game off.
Flanagan went close to adding another in the closing stages as The Saddlers ended the game with ten men after substitute, Romario Reid was forced to hobble off after we had used all three subs.
The last real action saw Preston, who got a much-needed 90 minutes under his belt, defend well to preserve our clean sheet.
"It was an excellent afternoon's work," said reserve team manager, Richard O'Kelly. "In tough conditions, both sets of players were fantastic in their outlook.
"We did the right things and everyone played their part in the performance;p there was a real determination and willingness to work hard.
"The attitude was spot-on and this is something that we want to see throughout the club.
"It was a good test for us as they had quite a few lads in their side with first-team experience, so it was a really positive performance from us.
"The front-men did were lively, especially Kieron Morris, whilst it was nice to see Matt Preston complete a solid 90 minutes and Craig MacGillivray showed a real desire to keep the ball out of the net and the clean sheet was a reward for that.
"It all bodes well for the future."
WALSALL: MacGillivray, Kinsella, Henry, K. Rowley, Preston, Flanagan, Delaney (Shakespeare 60), Clifford, Murphy (Reid 60), L. Rowley (Probert 72), Morris. Sub not used: Roberts.