Youth team play out a goalless draw with Carlisle United...THE SADDLERS' youth team fired a blank as their Football League Youth Alliance North-West Division clash with Carlisle United ended in stalemate at Ray Hall Lane on Saturday afternoon.
Despite having the lion’s share of possession and creating numerous chances, The Saddlers could not punish a fragile Cumbrians’ defence.
A crude challenge on Maziar Kouhyar presented The Saddlers with their first chance of the match. Levi Rowley curled the free-kick around the wall in similar fashion to one he scored against Fleetwood Town a few months back, but United goalkeeper, Tom Fowler, produced a terrific save to prevent the same outcome.
Luke Delaney’s corner was partially cleared by the visitors, Saddlers’ skipper Kyle Rowley retrieved the ball out wide before crossing for his namesake Levi Rowley to head straight at Fowler.
A decent passage of play from The Saddlers resulted in Nathan Owen teeing up Delaney, he flicked the ball up with his right-foot before firing straight at Fowler with his left.
Owen produced a carbon copy of Delaney’s effort as he also stung Fowler’s grateful hands from distance.
The match was just past the halfway point in the first-half when Saddlers’ shot-stopper Dan Jezeph‘s clearance was chased down by Levi Rowley, he outmuscled United captain Matthew Douglas before being thwarted by Fowler.
A few minutes before the interval, Jordon Sangha floated a long pass in behind the visitors’ backline to find Tevin Shakespeare bearing down on goal. Only a brilliant recovering challenge by Douglas ensured that it was all-square at the break.
Neil Woods introduced Brendan Pooni and Raekwan Smith in place of Kouhyar and Kane Lewis at half-time in a bid to find the goal that had eluded them in the first period.
Pooni almost provided instant success. After seizing upon a defensive mistake, the substitute headed towards goal before becoming the second Saddlers striker to be denied by a last ditch tackle from Carlisle defender, Douglas.
Pooni was looking the likeliest avenue for The Saddlers as we approached the hour mark. And it was he who ran down the left before pulling the ball back for top-scorer Levi Rowley to fire wide from 12 yards.
United had a chance of their own shortly after. Full-back Cuan Hurley raced down the right-flank before crossing for Connor Hammel to rattle the crossbar, with the aid of a brilliant fingertip save from Jezeph.
Injury forced Pooni off with 15 minutes remaining. Romario Reid, who notched four goals in a 6-0 away victory against The Cumbrians in August, was his replacement.
The visitors were looking to hit The Saddlers on the break at every opportunity, Substitute Arron Bradbury’s cross was cleared well by an under-pressure Delaney after United broke from a Saddlers corner.
The Saddlers continued to throw bodies forward in search of the goal that could have seen them move up to third in the League standings. Their best chance fell to Romario Reid but his shot trickled into the gloves of Fowler.
Woods’ side will be looking to return to winning ways when they travel to high-flying Wigan Athletic next Saturday (kick-off 11.00am).
WALSALL: Jezeph, Roberts, Lewis (R. Smith), Sangha, K. Rowley, Probert, Owen, Delaney, Shakespeare, L. Rowley, Kouhyar (Pooni (R. Reid)). Subs not used: J. Smith, Oliver.
By ALEX DICKEN