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YOUTH REPORT: WALSALL 2-2 PRESTON NORTH END

21 November 2016

Youngsters pegged back after blistering start...

Our young apprentices had to settle for a point at home to Preston North End after they gave away a two goal lead in an entertaining afternoon of football.

The Saddlers starlets got off to the perfect start as they came straight out of the blocks and scored two goals in the opening five minutes. But a debatable penalty decision just before half time and a headed goal from a set piece meant that Preston travelled back up north with a share of the spoils.

Before the spectators at Ray Hall Lane could get in position, Biggs's side were already 1-0 up with a goal from the skipper, Callum Cockerill-Mollett.

The left back found himself in an advanced position in the early moments of the game and the ball eventually made its way to him in the box and he made no mistake in smashing the ball past Roberts in goal.

Preston’s poor start continued as O’Sullivan piled on more agony for the away side.

The left footed midfielder got in behind the Preston defence and was left one on one with the Preston stopper and he coolly slid the ball into the back of the net.

After the frantic start Preston dusted themselves down and started to play and carved out a couple of half chances.

The Lillywhites produced two volleyed efforts but neither was enough to trouble Ganley as he saved one from Howard and watched the other from Meulensteen go over the bar.

Hayles-Docherty had a chance to make it 3-0 Walsall as the forward cut inside onto his favoured right foot and curled a good shot towards goal which was matched with an equally good save.

Then came the moment of controversy as the referee decided to award the away side a penalty after what seemed to be a genuine attempt of a block on striker Kwateng who still had the ball at his feet.

Nevertheless the penalty was given despite the Saddler's appeals and Preston’s captain Meulensteen stepped up to finish past Ganley and give the away side some hope going into the break.

Half-time: Walsall 2-1 Preston North End

Two goals in the opening moments of the first half was always going to be difficult to match but Walsall did have two good opportunities to extend their lead.

The first chance came as Tonks chipped over the top to get Peters in behind who squared to Hayles-Docherty but he was unable to get his shot on target.

Peters then had a chance for himself as the keeper slipped and fumbled the ball which presented an opportunity for the striker but his effort was crucially blocked.

Preston started to get themselves into the game and it wasn’t long before they snatched an equaliser.

On the 70 minute mark Meulensteen whipped a corner to the near post and defender Day flicked it on into the back of the net to pull Preston level.

The youngsters heads didn’t drop though as they nearly had an immediate response from a corner too.

Maddocks whipped a curling ball in which eluded the keeper and was just inches over the head of Vann at the back post.

Cairns came on as a sub for Walsall and had a couple of decent chances but in the end he was unlucky not to covert. The first came from an O’Sullivan pull back but another Preston block prevented it from going goal bound while the second came from a ball over the top but it was difficult to control the bouncing ball as he volleyed over the bar.

The final throw of the Walsall dice came as O’Sullivan dribbled his way into the box and went down from a challenge but this time the referee waved away the protests and blew for full time from the resulting goal kick.

Full-time: Walsall 2-2 Preston North End

Team: Ganley, Tonks (Fisher 77’), Cockerill-Mollett, Cela, Vann, Kendrick, Hayles-Docherty (Mason 65’), Maddocks, Peters (Cairns 84’), O’Sullivan, Freemantle

Subs not used: Caswell, Candlin.

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