Peters strike maintains fine start for Woods' men...
SADDLERS youth team continued their terrific start to the season with a 1-0 victory over Wrexham at Ray Hall Lane.
Cameron Peters’ second-half strike was enough to give the Saddlers all three points and secure their fourth win in five games, following Tuesday night’s Midland Youth Cup success against Burton Albion.
The narrow win means that Neil Woods’ side remain on the shoulder of early Football League Youth Alliance North-West division pace-setters Tranmere Rovers.
In a first-half that failed to produce any chances of note for either team, Wrexham’s goalkeeper Reece Airey was the busier of the two shot-stoppers on show. He produced fine saves to deny both Rory Oliver and Jordon Sangha as the Dragons sat deep and tried to make life difficult for the hosts.
It wasn’t until the second-half that Walsall really began to pile the pressure onto the visiting defence. Nathan Owen connected with Brendan Pooni’s cutback but didn’t get enough purchase on the strike allowing Airey to save comfortably.
But the Saddlers duly took the lead in the 55th minute; a long ball into the box wasn’t dealt with by the Wrexham rear-guard leaving Callum Cockerill-Mollet to square the ball for Peters to tap home.
The Dragons did have a goal disallowed late on when Dan Jezeph spilled Jordan Davies’ free-kick, but the onrushing Wrexham players were all deemed to have been offside.
Apart from that minor scare, the Saddlers were able to see out the match in the visitors’ half and record their third win in succession, much to the delight of Academy Manager Neil Woods.
“It is a really good result, Wrexham are a very good side. They are well-organised and really well coached and they made life incredibly difficult for us today,” said Woods.
Despite his team chalking up another win, Woods wasn’t pleased with their performance. But he was keen to praise the attitudes of his players for recognising that their performance didn’t live up to the high standards that they have set.
“They’re quite flat in the dressing room. They know they’ve worked hard and played some good football at times, but equally they know that they have done some very average things today. The fact that they have recognised that is really pleasing.
“Our football intelligence let us down a bit today, but that’s not a big problem as we are only five games into the season,” he added.
“I can’t question their enthusiasm or commitment to the game but at times I do think we need to have a little bit more thought to what we’re doing.”
Seven of the eight goals the youth team have scored so far this season have come after the break, something Woods puts down to the mileage done during a gruelling pre-season.
“The boys have worked exceptionally hard this season. They came back in brilliant condition which meant that the intensity of the work in pre-season could start at a much higher level.
“The more goals you score in the second-half is always a positive, especially when you are keeping clean sheets as well.”
Neil Woods and his side make the long trip to Carlisle next Saturday before returning to Ray Hall Lane to take on Blackpool the following weekend (12pm kick-off).