Youth team run out deserved winners against Morecambe...NATHAN Owen bagged a brace as The Saddlers’ youth team ran out worthy 3-1 winners against Morecambe at Ray Hall Lane on Saturday afternoon.
Owen’s double and a solitary strike from Tevin Shakespeare were enough to give The Saddlers a 3-0 lead before Morecambe grabbed a consolation goal.
The Saddlers hadn’t won in their previous two matches in The Football League Youth Alliance North-West Division, failing to score in both, but they started brightly in this one.
Under-16 prospect, Callum Cockerill-Mollet, was found in space down the left flank by Levi Rowley, his drilled cross was met by the head of Brendan Pooni, forcing a fine save from Morecambe’s goalkeeper.
A free-kick out wide presented Luke Delaney with the opportunity to fire a low pass in towards Shakespeare, he swivelled before testing The Shrimps’ shot-stopper, as The Saddlers began to lay siege on the visitors’ goal.
The Lancashire side were struggling to cope with Delaney’s set piece delivery, his latest flag kick found the head of defender Lewis Probert, but he planted his downward header narrowly wide of the mark.
Good pressure by Levi Rowley forced a Shrimps’ defender into a mistake, the ball fell to Pooni who couldn’t beat the on-rushing ‘keeper, before Rowley’s rebound was brilliantly blocked by a recovering defender.
The Saddlers finally took a deserved lead after 32 minutes. Delaney’s corner was taken down neatly by skipper Kyle Rowley who teed up Owen to drive home from the edge of the box.
Morecambe didn’t carry much threat during the first-half, but they were handed the perfect chance to level in stoppage time. Cockerill-Mollet was adjudged to have tripped his Morecambe counterpart in the area.
But Cockerill-Mollet’s under-16 team-mate, Bradley Caswell, spared his blushes. The goalkeeper produced a sensational save to deny the visitors a goal from the penalty spot to ensure The Saddlers led at the interval.
Immediately after the restart, The Saddlers looked to have killed the game. Levi Rowley powered down the wing before pulling the ball back towards the edge of the area, leaving Owen to produce another unerring finish to double the lead.
The Saddlers continued the onslaught and almost extended their advantage just past the hour mark. Delaney’s latest corner was met by Shakespeare, but his powerful header cannoned back off the crossbar.
However, The Shrimps failed to clear their lines properly and as Probert swung the ball back into the danger zone, Shakespeare won the battle for possession and fired low into the net.
The visitors grabbed a consolation late on, their forward’s shot was initially saved by Caswell before he gobbled up the rebound to reduce the arrears.
The Saddlers saw out the game relatively comfortably, Romario Reid and Maziar Kouhyar were introduced late on as Neil Woods looked to utilise his squad ahead of a busy period for the youngsters over the next few weeks.
The Saddlers head to Burnley during the week before returning to Ray Hall Lane next Saturday to face Rochdale in what is sure to be a thrilling clash (11.00am kick-off).
By ALEX DICKEN