The Saddlers got their CFL Cup campaign off to a solid start this afternoon with a battling draw against a Port Vale side boasting several senior players.
All but two of The Saddlers' squad for this game were from the club's Academy, underlining the fine work being done in our youth system and the hard work of those coming through the ranks at Walsall.
The Saddlers - watched from the dugout by Professional Development Coach John Ward and Academy Manager Graham Biggs - started with trialist keeper Dale Eve in net, behind a back four of Liam Kinsella, Kory Roberts, Ben Kendrick and Cody Fisher.
Milan Butterfield played in central midfield with Jordon Sangha and Reece Flanagan, with Maz Kouhyar and Will Shorrock starting wide behind lone striker Dan O'Sullivan.
O’Sullivan was an unused substitute in our Checkatrade Trophy win against West Bromwich Albion U21s last week and led the line well here.
The youngster immediately demonstrated his threat as he latched onto the end of a through ball from Maz Kouhyar, taking the ball into the box with his first touch.
O’Sullivan made space for a low shot but the youngster could only fire his effort at Vale keeper Sam Hornby, who collected.
At the other end, a low drive from Rekeil Pyke tested trialist keeper Dale Eve but the Saddlers stopper was equal to the effort.
Chances were sparse throughout the first half, with Marcus Harness going close for Vale just past the half-hour mark but blazing over after good work from Pyke to find him in space just inside the box.
Reece Flanagan thought he had opened the scoring on 36 minutes when his 20-yard free kick curled over the wall and cannoned off the crossbar, bouncing off the ground into the hands of Hornby.
The Saddlers were convinced the ball bounced over the line but the referee and his assistant were unmoved.
Eve had to be alert on the stroke of half-time to keep out Pyke's effort from point-blank range.
Flanagan again came close just past the hour - firing just over the bar as a corner was only half-cleared by Vale - before Eve was again called into action as he made a fine double save from Jack Stobbs and then Harry Benz in the 73rd minute.
Kory Roberts fired over from a corner with minutes remaining as the scores remained goalless in what proved an entertaining game at Ray Hall Lane.
The Development Squad are next in action next Wednesday afternoon as John Ward's side travel to Morecambe in a Central League game.