Youth Team start new campaign with 2-1 victory...
A WILL Shorrock brace ensured the Saddlers’ youth team kicked off their season with an all-action 2-1 victory over Accrington Stanley at Ray Hall Lane.
The midfielder scored either side of Ross Sykes’ reply as Walsall got their Football League Youth Alliance North-West Division campaign off to the perfect start.
After a minute’s silence was observed impeccably by players and supporters alike to remember the Saddlers fans who tragically lost their lives in Tunisia, the match got underway.
Walsall were immediately on the front foot and Shorrock duly broke the deadlock after 18 minutes; he was found by the lively Rory Oliver before outwitting Stanley goalkeeper Jack Little to score the club’s first goal of the season.
But the Saddlers’ joy was incredibly short-lived as Stanley went on the attack straight from the restart to win their first corner of the match. A hanging delivery allowed defender Sykes to loop a header in at the far post and level the match.
Despite their dominance, it wasn’t until the 69th minute that the hosts managed to assert their authority on the score line. Neat passing from the Saddlers allowed Shorrock to find space in the penalty area, he shimmied to find a yard before firing his effort into the corner, with the aid of a slight deflection.
The Saddlers used the ball well in the latter stages to see out the game without being threatened. And it was the control that his team had which impressed academy manager, Neil Woods, most of all.
“I think it was a justified win. I think we had control of it for at least 90 per cent of the game. The pitch was very hard and it was incredibly hot, but when we look back, we will be pleased with some of the football that we played today,” said Woods.
Woods has had to start from scratch during the close season with his line-up boasting no fewer than five first year scholars, four of whom have never played at this level before.
“I’m very pleased for them because they’ve worked hard all pre-season. They’ve never played games at this pace and tempo and they’ve never played games where there’s a meaning and a league table at the end of it.
“We’ve got three second years that came on at the end that will undoubtedly strengthen us and make us physically stronger. But the first years are making it very hard for them,” he continued.
And Woods was eager to heap praise onto his players for their tremendous application during what has been a gruelling pre-season. He said: “From the start of pre-season to the very first game I can’t praise them enough, their attitudes have been fantastic.”
The youth team will make the trip to Preston North End next Saturday hoping to build on their impressive start before returning to Ray Hall Lane the following week to face Shrewsbury Town (11am kick-off).