Academy Manager on youth team Dale defeat...SADDLERS' Academy Manager, Neil Woods, has reflected upon his side’s defeat to Rochdale in The Football League Youth Alliance North-West Division at Ray Hall Lane on Saturday morning.
Goals from Dominic Reid and James Hooper cancelled out Tevin Shakespeare’s opener to condemn the youngsters to defeat.
But Woods believes that Rochdale are the best team that his side have faced this season and will be taking plenty of positives from the defeat.
“I thought for the first 25 minutes we were outstanding," he said. "Some of our play was terrific; it had end product and we scored a super goal.
“We know Rochdale are a good side, they are the best side we have played this season, both home and away. We beat them 2-0 at their place, but they are strong, organised and they have some very good players in their ranks.
“If you are looking at possession stats, we controlled it. But possession alone doesn’t win football matches and I think they were probably a little bit stronger and a little bit more ruthless at both ends of the pitch today.
“The result was disappointing, but there are a lot of positives that we can take from the game."
And Woods believes his young squad, which included four under-16 players at the weekend, now have a good platform to build from.
“We are progressing with a lot of young lads from a good starting platform," he went on. "But we need to have more of an idea about how to win games, we just play football at the moment, anywhere on the park at exactly the same tempo. We don’t fear danger enough.
“But we are not going to change our philosophy of how we want to play, we want to play good football. We have to put a little bit more importance to certain situations and areas, we have to defend a little bit better. We were a bit too deep at times."
Despite being displeased with his players’ defending for Dale’s goals, Woods preferred to praise the way the visitors’ game plan nullified his side’s expansive passing style after the opening period.
“For the first part of the match it couldn’t have gone any better for us; we scored a good goal, created chances and had total control of the game.
"Any goal you concede is disappointing, but you have to give credit to Rochdale, they got after us and stuck to their game plan. We didn’t quite have the cutting edge that they did today."
The youth team will play their next two matches in Lancashire. They travel north to face Burnley on Thursday afternoon before facing Preston North End the following Monday as Woods and his side look to find a winning formula.
WALSALL: Jezeph, J. Smith, Cockerill-Mollett, Sangha, K. Rowley, Probert, Delaney, Owen, Shakespeare, L. Rowley, Pooni (Hayes-Docherty). Subs not used: Oliver, Caswell, Roberts, Cela.
By ALEX DICKEN