Several young Saddlers players got a good workout at the Montgomery Waters Meadow in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Shrewsbury Town today.
Mitch Candlin, who has just signed his first professional deal at the club until at least 2020, netted a fine goal as the Shrews ran out 2-1 winners.
With Professional Development Coach John Ward and Academy Manager Graham Biggs in the dugout, The Saddlers were also watched by manager Jon Whitney and coaches Ian Sharps and Neil Cutler.
The hosts took the lead 12 minutes in when Stefan Payne found the ball at his feet in the box from a right-wing cross. The striker had time to turn and shoot before burying a low shot past Liam Roberts.
The Saddlers would equalise minutes later through Candlin. The 17-year-old rifled a powerful drive at goal from 25 yards and it nestled in the back of the net past former Saddler Craig MacGillivray.
Payne caused more problems minutes later with a similar turn and shot but Liam Roberts was equal to this effort, before Dan James saw a long-range curled effort cannon back off the crossbar.
Maz Kouhyar caused problems for the Shrews on the left flank and sent a left-footed effort over from 20 yards with nine minutes of the first half to play, moments before Roberts was called into action again at the other end to hold onto a deflected shot from James.
Candlin did well to charge down a clearance and find himself through, but MacGillivray closed the angle and an off-balance Candlin fired just wide of goal.
Reece Flanagan got 90 minutes under his belt as he builds his fitness following an injury-hit 2016/17 and nearly scored in spectacular fashion as his curled free-kick, 25 yards out and left, cannoned back off the crossbar with MacGillivray beaten.
Roberts did superbly with 10 minutes to play to make himself big and close down James, who had been played in behind the defence by a clearance, and save the midfielder’s powerful low shot from in the box.
The hosts would grab their second on 87 minutes - a quick, precise counter finished well by Arthur Gnahoua from just inside the box.
SADDLERS: L Roberts, Kendrick, K Roberts, Cockerill-Mollett, Kinsella, Flanagan, Sangha, Shorrock, Kouhyar, Candlin, Peters.