Academy Manager on latest win...ACADEMY Manager, Neil Woods, was in buoyant mood after his side returned to winning ways in The Football League Youth Alliance North-West Division with victory of Morecambe at Ray Hall Lane on Saturday afternoon.
A brace from Nathan Owen and a goal from Tevin Shakespeare was enough to give The Saddlers our first win in three matches as we bid to resurrect our League season.
The youngsters have slipped away from the League summit in recent weeks but after this win we are firmly back in the mix with two important clashes against fellow high-flyers Burnley and Rochdale over the course of the next week.
Woods was overjoyed to see his side return to their fluent best. “I thought we played some really good football at times," he said. "We created a lot of chances.
“We have had a tough three or four weeks now, so I was delighted to see us move the ball so well and create the chances that we did."
But Woods is always demanding more from his players and was disappointed to see their performance levels drop in the latter stages of the match.
“We were not as clinical as I would have liked," he added. "But we have got to give their goalkeeper some credit, I thought he made some terrific saves.
"We faded away in the last 15 or 20 minutes and made the game a competitive one, when it shouldn’t have been.”
Woods was particularly pleased with under-16s, Bradley Caswell and Callum Cockerill-Mollet. Caswell was making his first appearance for the youth team, while Cockerill-Mollet was starting his second match in succession after making his debut against Wigan Athletic last week.
“We had two under-16s playing today and I’m really pleased for them," Woods continued. "Callum has played the last two games at left-back and has done really well.
“The goalkeeper, Bradley Caswell, was outstanding and made a terrific save from the penalty, I’m just disappointed for him because he should have come away with a clean sheet and that would have been a true reflection of the performance he put in."
Woods and his side will travel to Burnley on Wednesday before returning to Ray Hall Lane to face Rochdale next Saturday (11.00am kick-off). And Woods is keen to see a repeat performance after his side defeated Burnley 3-1 at the beginning of the season.
“We were very good when we beat Burnley; they are a decent side. We dominated that game from start to finish really.
“Up until Christmas the quality of our football was outstanding, we have stuttered a bit since then but we have been doing the right things so we can live with that.
‘There were some things that were frustrating about us today, so we have got an early chance to rectify that on Wednesday.”
By ALEX DICKEN