2-0 victory maintains unbeaten start for Woods's men...Goals from Tobias Hayles-Docherty and Maziar Kouhyar gave Walsall youth team a 2-0 win over rivals Shrewsbury Town at Ray Hall Lane on Saturday to maintain our unbeaten start to the season.
The victory saw us leapfrog the Shrews in the Football League Youth Alliance North-West Division and ensures they stay hot on the heels of early pace setters Tranmere Rovers.
Neil Woods chose to deploy the diamond formation with Hayles-Docherty partnered in attack by Cameron Peters, and the youngsters were causing havoc from the get go.
In a first-half that yielded very little attacking football, Peters’ marauding run down the right which was followed by a tame strike at Salop’s keeper Harry Lewis, was the only chance of note.
But it didn’t take long for the Saddlers to make their first-half possession pay in the second period. A wonderful move saw Peters again exploit the Shrews’ deficiencies down the right. He pulled the ball back for Hayles-Docherty to slot in for his first of the season in the 57th minute.
Peters thought he had got the goal that his performance merited shortly afterwards. He was played through on goal and produced the most delicate of lobs to outwit the on-rushing Lewis, but unfortunately the flag was raised.
The inevitable second goal arrived with just three minutes remaining; the hugely impressive Rory Oliver found Kouhyar on the edge of the box, he swivelled and drilled the ball into the corner for his first of the campaign. Academy boss, Neil Woods, felt it was just a case of wearing their opponents down.
He said: “I was very pleased with a lot of aspects of the performance but particularly after half-time.
“We knew Shrewsbury would try and change things and for 10 minutes they got back into the game, but our attitudes to understand what was going on in the game were terrific.
“It’s a very hot day, our lads were tired at the end but when you’ve got to chase the ball around for long periods of time it’s even harder and I think in the end, by playing football and sticking to our philosophy, we wore them out.”
Woods was keen to heap praise onto his strike pairing after both combined to give the Saddlers the lead, but insists they are a working progress.
“The second goal was a tremendous finish from Maz, but the first was more pleasing" he added. "We’ve got two first years who are working their socks off upfront and for one to contribute for the other to score is probably the most pleasing aspect of the performance.”
“They are both very quiet and shy lads. They individually did a lot of good things, we spoke at half-time about them linking up and working off each other a little bit better.
“The goal was a sign of their understanding improving. There is still a lot of work to do but they are listening which is very pleasing.”
The youngsters were due to be in League Cup action next week but have received a bye into the next round meaning their next match will be against Wrexham at Ray Hall Lane on September 12 (Kick-off 11am).