Youth team boss thrilled with first half display...ACADEMY boss, Neil Woods, said the first-half performance during the youth team’s 3-0 battering of Fleetwood Town ‘was as good as we’ve played all season.’
Another brace from Cameron Peters and a typically stylish Maziar Kouhyar strike gave the Saddlers their third consecutive victory on home soil.
And Woods was keen to lavish his side with praise after another goal-laden display against the Cod Army took their tally to 20 in seven games since the winter break.
“The first-half was as good as we’ve played all season. I think if there’s a slight disappointment it’s that we only came in with two,” he said. “Results haven’t gone with us in the last few weeks but our performances have been good enough.
“When we played Fleetwood away, I thought they were in the top three teams we’ve played this year. I was very pleased with our approach and our work ethic.”
Eight of those aforementioned 20 goals have been scored by in-form striker Peters. He opened the scoring with an instinctive finish from Nathan Owen’s cutback inside the first minute before adding a spectacular second late on after forcing the visiting defence into a mistake.
Woods heaped praise on the youngster who has now scored 12 goals in his first year as an apprentice.
He said: “I’m very pleased for Cameron. We’ve done a lot of work, but it’s alright putting training sessions and drills on, he has to recognise the situations. He’s having one of those spells.
“Last week he could have had five but he couldn’t hit a barn door,” joked Woods.
“The second goal epitomises his performance levels since Christmas.
“At the moment, offensively, we look a very dangerous team.”
Not long after Kouhyar had put Walsall 2-0 ahead, the visitors had the chance to pull a goal back from the penalty spot after Jamie Smith was adjudged to have tripped Fleetwood’s Louis Myers.
But after the striker picked himself up to take the spot-kick, he was brilliantly denied by Saddlers’ goalkeeper Dan Jezeph who preserved his seventh clean sheet of the campaign.
“It’s that type of stuff that we’ve got to get better at. When you are in such command of the game, you can’t give the opposition a chance to get back into it,” Woods stressed.
“To be fair to Dan Jezeph, these are hard games for goalkeepers and he’s made two top saves, one in the first-half and one in the second which could have potentially changed the momentum of the game.”
League-leaders Wigan Athletic thrashed bottom-of-the-table Morecambe 5-1 to maintain the one point gap to the second-placed Saddlers. With Wigan and rivals Bury having three games in hand Woods realises that the league is out of his team’s hands now, but he is delighted with the improvements being made each week.
“The league is in Wigan and Bury’s hands. They’ve got so many games in hand that they will have to lose it from here.
“We just want to get better and we have got a lot of young lads that are now starting to look very strong.
“We want people to know what they are going to get when they play Walsall. They’re going to get a team that plays football, but also competes as well.”
The youngsters head to Tranmere Rovers in a fortnight before returning to Ray Hall Lane to face Burnley on April 9 (11am kick-off).