Youth team secure deserved victory over Fleetwood...THE SADDLERS' youth team defeated Fleetwood Town 2-0 in The Football League Youth Alliance North-West Conference at Ray Hall Lane on Saturday afternoon thanks to a scintillating first-half display.
Luke Delaney and Levi Rowley both scored within the first 15 minutes to ensure Neil Woods’ men remain level on points with League-leaders Wigan Athletic.
The win was the youngsters’ second in succession following the previous Saturday’s 3-1 victory at Wrexham.
The Saddlers came flying out of the blocks and took the lead inside 10 minutes with a fantastic team goal.
Clever link-up play down the right between Jamie Smith and Delaney freed up Tevin Shakespeare in the centre, he showed neat footwork before playing Delaney through on goal, who calmly slotted the ball underneath the onrushing goalkeeper.
Less than five minutes later, Delaney was at it again. As he tried to latch onto Brendan Pooni’s flick he was crudely brought down on the edge of the visitors’ box.
Levi Rowley sumptuously curled the resulting free-kick around the wall and past the unsighted Elliot Wynne in the Fleetwood goal. The goal was the forward’s 11th this season.
After 30 minutes Walsall ‘keeper Dan Jezeph found Levi Rowley following a rare foray forward by the visitors. The striker showed great control before cutting inside to fire over from distance.
Kane Lewis burst down the left flank before pulling the ball back for the aforementioned Levi Rowley, his shot was well-held by Fleetwood shot-stopper Wynne.
Moments later, Lewis broke down the left again before firing the ball across the face of goal, Delaney met the cross at the far post but could only poke the ball wide of the target.
The Cod Army’s Wynne was once again called into action when Shakespeare tried his luck from distance as The Saddlers looked to extend their advantage.
Walsall almost increased their lead on the stroke of half-time, full-back Smith powerfully ran down the right before crossing for Pooni to head over from 12-yards.
The second-half began in much the same vein. Pooni let fly from 25-yards, Wynne was relieved to see it sail just past the post.
Five minutes into the second-half Levi Rowley thought he had scored his second of the game after lobbing the ball into an empty net, but he was adjudged to have been offside.
The second-half became scrappy as Fleetwood looked to prevent The Saddlers from playing the natural passing game which had torn them apart in the first-period.
It wasn’t until the 85th minute that Walsall began to push forward in search of more goals. Saddlers’ skipper Kyle Rowley met Luke Delaney’s corner, but his powerful header flew over the crossbar.
Shortly after, hesitancy in The Cod Army’s defence was seized upon by substitute Romario Reid, he pulled the ball back for Maziar Kouhyar who became the latest Walsall player to be frustrated by Wynne.
The only negative from a terrific performance was that The Saddlers didn’t score more goals in a match that they totally dominated.
Neil Woods’ side will look to continue their fine form when they travel to Accrington Stanley in a fortnight.
The victory was the first part of a double over Fleetwood on Saturday as the first-team following it up with an excellent 1-0 away win.
By ALEX DICKEN