First pre-season friendly ends in 1-0 defeat at AFC Telford United...
THE SADDLERS tasted defeat in our first friendly fixture of the 2015/16 campaign, against AFC Telford United.
A Jordan Goodard spot kick, three minutes before the break, was enough to earn the non-League outfit a moral-boosting win at the New Bucks Head Stadium.
Dean Smith used the fixture to look at 22 members of the squad, in what was a competitive contest from the outset.
The Saddlers started on the front foot, setting a quick tempo which would have pleased the on looking boss.
It didn’t take long for the Saddlers to test James Montgomery in the Telford goal. Jordan Cook combined neatly with Romaine Sawyers before curling an effort towards the top corner.
The home side were starved of possession for much of the opening 15 minutes with Sawyers, Forde and Baxendale all looking lively for League side.
The ever-combative Liam Kinsella gave Telford their first shooting opportunity on the 20 minute mark.
Johnny Gorman was grounded by the diminutive 19-year old 25-yards out but the Bucks midfielder could only find the midriff of Craig MacGillivray with the resulting free kick.
At the other end, Montgomery was at full stretch to keep out Forde’s effort, a curling shot destined for the top corner.
Next, it was Adam Chambers’ turn to try and break the deadlock, miscuing a volley from 8 yards out.
Baxendale soon followed suit, misplacing his effort from the middle of the goal after Romaine Sawyers pulled the ball back from the by-line.
The hosts were limited to set piece opportunities for much of the first half, MacGillivray equal to the effort on each occasion.
Though the chances were starting to pile up for the visitors. Forde looked to emulate his JPT freekick heroics, fizzing a free kick goal just over the bar as half time edged closer.
Then came the defining moment of the game.
Two minutes from the break, Saddlers new boy Jason Demetriou was adjudged to have handled inside the box when attempting to block a Johnny Gorman cross.
Jordan Goodard stepped up to cooly dispatch from the spot and put the hosts in front.
Dean Smith rung the changes at the break and was nearly instantly rewarded.
Lalkovic and Bradshaw, on for Baxendale and Cook, combined just a minute into the second half with last years top marksman firing a half volley straight at Montgomery.
Rico Henry introduced himself to the proceedings moments later with a blistering run down the left wing before firing a cross along the six-yard box but still the hosts would not be broken.
Lalkovic went close with a free kick after Morris showed a quick turn of foot down the right flank before Flanagan added to the shot count on the hour mark.
Sam Mantom’s floated effort which drifted into the hands of the keeper as time ticked away for the Saddlers.
Smith’s men continued to press for an equaliser with Craig MacGillivray a near spectator for much of the second period.
That was until an Alando Lewis free kick fifteen minutes from time brought the best out of the Saddlers stopper who produced an acrobatic save away to his left hand side to keep the visitors in the game.
Jordan Murphy had an effort blocked late on but it wasn’t to be as Steve Kittrick’s men held on for the win.
Attendance: 895 (302 Away Supporters)
Starting Line Up: MacGillivray, Demetriou, Downing, O’Connor, Taylor, Kinsella, Chambers, Forde, Sawyers, Baxendale, Cook