Walsall U18s 0-4 Carlisle United U18s
It was a miserable, rainy day and a miserable result for Walsall Under-18s as Carlisle United ran out 4-0 winners at Birmingham County FA Headquarters on Friday writes Louis Mitchell
A goal after five minutes from Sam Fishburn set the tone in torrential conditions as Young Saddlers faced an uphill battle throughout.
Miguel Llera and Kyle Kirby stressed more communication from their players at the interval, yet two early second half goals from Lewis Bell made the comeback improbable.
With less than 10 minutes remaining, the points were on the bus home with Carlisle when Leslie Kegan’s long-range free kick bounced its way through everyone and into the corner sealing a disappointing afternoon in Great Barr.
Young Saddlers’ final game before the Christmas break began in less than ideal fashion when Bell’s corner was flicked on at the near post by Fishburn. Zack Hedges was unable to hold the soaking ball as it squirmed into the net to give the visitors a red-hot start in the cold and wet afternoon.
Walsall battled back as the pitch became laden with water when Jayden Allamby-John had a strike saved low and to his left by Gabriel Breeze.
Kyle Sharp, who battled hard throughout in midfield, was the next player to have an opportunity when he latched onto the end of a whipped free kick but could only divert the ball off target.
Young Saddlers worked play nicely through the midfield in the first half only lacking the incisive pass to link forwards in the final third.
Reinvigorated by half time, Walsall flew out the blocks and looked dangerous, with Jack Lynch having a fiery shy at Breeze who spilt the ball. Young Saddlers did not gamble, and Carlisle were able to clear.
In the ascendancy and searching for an equaliser, Walsall were sucker punched moments later by Bell’s 25-yard strike. The creative midfielder set his shot outside the far post and the ball arced into the top corner with Hedges hopelessly diving.
Carlisle had the wind at their back after taking it from Young Saddlers’ sails and a defensive lapse put Fishburn in on goal. Hedges came charging and made a magnificent sprawling save only for the ball to reach Bell once more who smashed home his second from 12 yards
With the game slipping away, Lynch set up a lifeline for Walsall with a beautiful ball to Samin Sarvari at the back post. Unmarked, he rushed his shot a little and fired straight at Breeze.
With 10 minutes left, Carlisle ensured the points would return to Cumbria when a looping, crossed free kick deceived everyone and nestled in the corner.
Professional Development Phase Coach Kyle Kirby lamented the attacking build up play from Young Saddlers, but was impressed with the spirit in not giving up:
“It was a disappointing result, I thought. They were better in both boxes than we were.
“Our final ball and arrival into the final third were sloppy at times.
“We conceded some sloppy goals and it puts you on the back foot. Credit to the lads for the character to keep going and try and get something out of the game – we certainly don’t question that.”