Saddlers ease past Coventry United to progress in Birmingham Senior Challenge Cup...Professional Development Coach, John Ward was keen to avoid being the bearer of bad news when he took charge of the Saddlers for our Birmingham Senior Challenge Cup tie with Coventry United.
His side ran our 3-0 winners on Tuesday night thanks to goals from Cameron Peters, Jordon Sangha and Josh Ginnelly but with the Senior side and Youth Team in the middle of good runs of form, Ward was happy to avoid a blotch on the record.
“I was lucky to have the group on Monday to prepare for the Coventry game and my shout all the way through was about professionalism and application,” Ward explained. “Even at half time when we’re three goals up, that was the message and to their credit the boys responded very well.
“The youth team have kept 5 clean sheets on trot, its 1 defeat in 9 for the first team lads, so it was up to us as a mixed group to keep this feel good factor going.
“It was a good test for us and because of the way they changed things at the break, we played against two different teams in effect.
“First half they were very well organised, dropped off and gave us room to play. We managed to use that space to good effect and opened them up to scored our 3 goals.
“Then they had a rethink and came out for the second half pressing higher up the pitch and tried to close us down.
“The boys handled it very well. We had a few young players in there who will benefit from the experience and then one or two senior lads who have got another 90 match minutes under their belt which is encouraging.”
The victory means the Saddlers are now through to the Second Round of both the Birmingham and Walsall Senior Cup competitions and whilst our name is in the hat, Ward says he has every intention of progressing as far as possible.
“I’ve never gone with a team and said we’ll be alright this is just for the experience,” he added. “Coming off the pitch the feeling was that we want to keep the games coming and the only way to do that is by progressing through the rounds.
“Of course it’s part of developing and progressing players but for me it’s about winning football matches because that’s what happens at youth, development and first team level.
“We don’t have a full fixture list as a Development Squad so these games are just as important for the likes of George Dobson and Isaiah Osbourne as they are the youth team boys.
“The youngsters are in good form themselves so there are three or four that have kept that momentum going and they’ve coped with the demands of men’s football extremely well
They aren’t awestruck by the senior players. They get on with it because they’re used to coming in and working with them.
“That’s encouraging because it prepares them for the next step in their careers and tells me that they can step in when needed.”