Walsall Under-18s ended the season with an unfortunate 3-2 defeat to Port Vale despite a spirited performance.
The young Saddlers led 2-1 at the break courtesy of a Joe Willis penalty and close-range finish by Perry Moss, after Port Vale had taken the lead. The away side were able to turn the tide in the second half from a Luis Lake header and an unstoppable strike from substitute Maxwell Chimenes.
Port Vale took the lead early on when Danny Coogen was judged to have felled Hayden Campbell in the box. Joe Berks stepped up in the sixth minute and slotted the ball into the left corner to give the away team the lead.
Walsall were looking determined to answer back and after a silky piece of skill down the right wing by Jacob Watson, the striker was brought down in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Captain Joe Willis sent Mawgan Blight the wrong way from the spot to equalise with 24 minutes gone.
Three minutes later and Walsall were ahead. Coogen turned his man superbly down the wing and delivered a lethal low cross for Moss who was on hand to tap the ball home from close range after 27 minutes.
Jayden Campbell later burst through the Port Vale backline after a dynamic run and his placed effort seemed destined for the net, but was denied by the outside of the post.
Port Vale were able to get back on level terms in the second half on 49 minutes. A deep corner was met by Lake whose header was unfortunate not to have been cleared off the line by Campbell.
A well-worked Walsall corner then fell to Campbell but at full stretch the winger could not manage to find the net.
Alex McSkeane and Willis performed a great exchange down the right wing and the latter won a penalty after driving into the Port Vale box. The latter took the spot-kick but was unlucky to have his effort saved and keep the scores level.
The young Saddlers then went behind with 79 minutes on the clock after substitute Chimenes fired a powerful effort into the top corner from 25 yards out, which Dominic Rogerson could do little to keep out.
After the game, Kyle Kirby gave his summary on the young Saddlers’ campaign.
He said: “We’ve had some good performances but just been on the wrong end of results. We don’t give a lot away usually but we need to be more prolific in front of goal and make the best of the chances we’ve had.
“Performance-wise, certainly in possession, we’ve looked to play and dominate the ball which we weren’t doing in the earlier part of the season. The lads gave it a go and although they’re disappointed we’ve exposed some of the Under-16s into the game, the intensity and what the matchday looks like.
"It’s showing what the lads can do, and although we’ve been behind early on they didn’t look fearful or uptight when we were getting pressure. We just carried on playing and we were cool and calm, drawing them in and we looked to play.
“They looked to express themselves which is all I can ask really, so although I’m disappointed with the result, the performance I’m pleased with.”