Youngsters leave it late to over come Valiants' challenge...LEWIS Probert struck in stoppage time to give The Saddlers’ youth team a 1-0 victory over Port Vale in The Football League Youth Alliance North-West Division at Ray Hall Lane on Saturday morning.
Probert’s strike at the death saw Neil Woods’ side return to winning ways after defeats in their previous two matches to Blackpool and Oldham Athletic respectively.
This was the youngsters’ first game in three weeks due to postponements and both sides started slowly.
The Saddlers did have the first meaningful attack of the game though; Kane Lewis broke down the left before picking out Levi Rowley on the edge of the box, he turned and forced Vale ‘keeper Calum Ferrie into a save. The rebound fell to Brendan Pooni, but he fired over with the goal gaping.
The Valiants then had a chance of their own; Omar Naughton dribbled through the centre before unleashing a fearsome drive, Dan Jezeph’s quick reactions kept the scores level.
With 20 minutes gone, Pooni dispossessed James Gibbons on the halfway line and raced towards goal, only to be thwarted by the recovering Vale defender.
Five minutes before the interval Vale should have taken the lead. Naughton slid Jonny Kapoun through on goal, but Saddlers’ stopper Jezeph was at full stretch to deny him and keep it goalless at the break.
When the second period began, The Saddlers immediately upped the ante in search of the elusive goal. Maziar Kouhyar’s mazy run down the left saw him evade the challenge of Gibbons, but his shot was straight at Ferrie.
With little over an hour gone Jordon Sangha almost made the breakthrough; Lewis’ cross from the left was cleared as far as Sangha, who hit a ferocious strike that was destined for the top corner had it not been for the fingertips of an inspired Ferrie.
Luke Delaney was next to chance his arm from distance, but Ferrie was not to be beaten. The Saddlers were building up a head of steam. Delaney’s freekick from the right-hand side was met by Probert at the back post, unfortunately he couldn’t keep his header down.
With 15 minutes remaining Delaney was fouled on the edge of the visitors’ box. Saddlers forward Tevin Shakespeare stepped up but his effort was wide of the upright.
Rowley was next to try his luck, but his tame effort was never troubling Ferrie.
Just when it looked as though Vale had weathered the storm, The Saddlers struck deep into stoppage time. A corner was cleared as far as Jamie Smith, he swung a cross in towards the far post where Probert was unmarked. The defender coolly volleyed into the far corner and wheeled away in celebration.
The youngsters took their time but eventually got what they deserved in a match where the visitors rarely threatened.
Neil Woods and his side travel to Tranmere Rovers next Saturday (Kick-off 11am) looking to build onthis victory and avenge our 2-0 defeat earlier in the season.
By ALEX DICKEN