Callum Cockerill-Mollett netted the Saddlers' winner...Academy manager Neil Woods hailed the performance of Callum Cockerill-Mollett after he scored the winning goal for Walsall’s Youth Team at Port Vale.
The 17-year-old left-back, who was deployed in the unfamiliar position of centre-half, headed home from a corner ten minutes before half-time to seal a hard-earned 1-0 victory.
It was the Saddlers’ second consecutive single-goal success, and Woods was full of praise for his players’ organisation and discipline.
“It was a very pleasing result against a strong Port Vale side who are doing very well in the league,” said Woods.
“We’ve had games where we’ve been very good with the ball and games where we’ve been very good without it, and we have been looking to put both sides together.
“There’s still a lot of margin for improvement but we were organised and marshalled very well by Callum Cockerill-Mollett, who was the stand-out player in the game.
“They were two organised sides who both had good spells of possession in the first-half. We looked a little bit more dangerous in the final third and scored about ten minutes before half-time when Callum headed in a corner.
“In the second-half, we kept playing as a team and created one or two decent chances. I thought we just about edged it on the day.”
Woods was particularly pleased with the clean sheet and says his side have been working hard on improving the defensive side of their game.
“In some matches we’ve played very good football but ended up conceding poor goals,” he admitted.
“We’ve done a lot of work recently on our defensive understanding so to come away from the last two games – against two good sides – with clean sheets away from home is very pleasing.”
Walsall’s Youth Team have now won four of their eight matches in 2016/17 and Woods has seen plenty of room for optimism.
“The work ethic of the group so far has been really pleasing and the performances have been very good,” he added.
“There are still a few individuals who need to play with a bit more freedom as some of the younger boys are a little bit fearful of making mistakes. You can understand that, but they need to trust their ability a bit more because we do.
“At the moment, the second years are taking the lead, which is great because they’re taking some of the weight off the younger boys.
“But they’re playing just as we’d like them to play - with confidence and a nice competitive edge.”