Preston 3-0 Walsall
Lewis Walker’s red card proved costly as Walsall Under 18s fell to a disappointing defeat away at Preston North End on Friday.
The Saddlers goalkeeper was sent off after he handled the ball outside the penalty area and the visitors had to play 70 minutes with 10 men.
Walsall conceded from the resulting free-kick before Preston made sure of the victory with two further goals in the second half.
Despite being disappointed with the result, Academy Manager Miguel Llera was proud with how his players battled with 10 men and was keen to look at the encouraging signs from the game.
“Taking the positives, we started really well and we were on top of them,” he said.
“The first 25 minutes, they didn’t have any shots on target and we were the better team than them.
“Everything went wrong after the 25th minute. Joe Foulkes, who was probably the best player on the pitch, blocked a shot and bent his ankle so he had to come off. Three minutes later, a long ball came over and Lewis didn’t make the right decision. He touched the ball with his hands outside the box and the referee took the decision to show a red card and from that free-kick they scored the first goal.
“Not scared of the situation, they were doing OK. After a minute and a half in the second half Preston scored from a really good strike and the confidence was knocked a lot.
“The third came a few minutes later so we changed the formation and played three at the back and two up front and the game changed.
“The lads did brilliantly with 10 men and three at the back. We had chances to score one or two goals. Credit to the lads because they didn’t give up. In the last 30 minutes we were miles better than them with 10 men. You try and encourage the players to keep pushing and keep working hard and this is what they did so I’m pleased for them.”