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16 January 2017

Bigg's side suffer defeat after five-goal first half...

The first home game of 2017 didn't go to plan for the Saddler's Under-18's as they fell to a 3-2 defeat to Port Vale at Ray Hall Lane.

All five goals came in a whirlwind first half as the wet conditions made it a physical encounter.

Despite the result, the young Saddlers got off to a dream start as Hayles-Docherty scored just 4 minutes in. The winger stole a march on the Vale defence down the left hand side and pulled back a cross into the box which caused a goal mouth scramble.

The ball eventually fell back to Hayles-Docherty who blasted it home past the keeper. But it didn't take long for Vale to get back into the game as 6 minutes later Benns cut in from the left onto his right foot and hit a curling shot into the top corner leaving Ganley no chance.

On the 15 minute mark Walsall retook the lead through their Captain, Cockerill-Mollett. A whipped in corner eluded everybody and the ball looked like it was heading out of play until Cockerill-Mollett executed a fantastic Cruyff turn to beat the Vale defender to allow him a yard to smash a left foot drive which the referee determined was over the line.

Compared to the first 15 minutes, the game cooled off for the next 20 until Port Vale struck again for another equaliser.

A whipped in cross to the back post was headed down to Mottram who made no mistake with his first time volley to make it 2-2.

The Port Vale comeback was then complete just minutes before half time. The wet conditions played a part in the goal as Vale dispossessed Walsall deep in their own half which allowed Barton time for a long range effort which beat Ganley low in the corner.

Half-time: Walsall 2-3 Port Vale

The third Port Vale goal just before half time suited their second half tactics as they frustrated Graham Biggs' side.

The young Saddlers could only carve out a handful of half chances as Port Vale set out to hold onto their lead and hit Walsall on the break.

Shorrock crossed to Peters at the near post but his header was just wide of the post. Substitutes Freemantle and Kendrick also had chances from set pieces.

The ball dropped to Freemantle in the area from a free kick but he was unable to make full contact on a difficult volley while Kendrick tested the palms of Slinn with a header from a corner.

As the clock was ticking Walsall piled on the pressure but they were unable to really test the keeper in search of a late equaliser.

Full-time: Walsall 2-3 Port Vale

Team: Ganley, Tonks, Fisher (Kendrick 61'), Cela, Vann (Maessamba 75'), Cockerill-Mollett, Mason, Shorrock, Peters (Freemantle 66'), O'Sullivan, Hayles-Docherty.

Subs not used: Caswell, Candlin.

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