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Under 18s: Walsall 1-2 Blackpool

28 January 2020

Luke Pearce’s header was not enough as Walsall Under-18s suffered only their second home defeat of the season, losing 2-1 to Blackpool.

Young Saddlers took the lead when Pearce got on the end of Joe Willis’ corner in the first half, but were caught out by two quick goals from Aaron Turner and Matthew Liptrott early in the second.

Turner was later sent off for a second yellow card as the home side chased an equaliser in an injury-ridden, stop-start encounter, however The Seasiders’ defence held firm and saw out the victory.

Walsall started the game brightly and carved out the first big opportunity after 10 minutes.

Coming off the back of his Man of the Match debut performance for Darrell Clarke’s side, Sam Perry played a fantastic, defence-splitting pass from midfield to find the advancing run of Jayden Campbell.

Campbell charged through on goal, but Alex Mclachlan closed down the angle in the Blackpool goal and the winger’s shot slid wide of the far post.

It was a sign of things to come as Young Saddlers piled on the pressure in the first half an hour and had strong shouts for a penalty waived away when Saif Mukadam looked to be have been tripped in the area.

Spurred on by the decision, just two minutes later Walsall found the breakthrough.

Captain Willis delivered an arcing corner to the back post where the prolific Pearce met the ball to nod home giving Miguel Llera’s side a slim lead at the interval.

After the break, roles were reversed with the visitors in the ascendancy and before Walsall had found their stride again, they were pegged back.

Rob Apter delivered a corner which was cleared by Walsall. The ball dropped to Pool full-back Turner who crashed a strike into the corner from 20-yards out.

With Willis’ side shaken, the visitors pounced again five minutes later.

After some intricate build up on the left flank, Liptrott was able to follow in on a low cross that reached the back post and side footed into the net.

Tommy Jackson had hardly a save to make in the first half but could do little about either of the Blackpool goals that turned the game on its head.

Young Saddlers’ best chance of the second period came after an hour with what was almost a carbon copy of the opener. Willis’ corner this time found Perry, but his header could only bulge the side netting.

Pressing for the leveller with five minutes remaining of the 90, Pearce looked to be through on goal when Turner was compelled to bring him down, saving what would have likely been the striker’s second. As the final defender, he was dismissed with a second yellow.

Blackpool reinforced their defence and sat in a low block to hold on against waves of attacks as Walsall were left to rue their missed chances.

Head coach Llera was displeased with the way his side started the second half but hoped it was a lesson learnt for his young side:

“I feel sad and really, really disappointed. When you concede the first one, it is part of the game – after a rebound or second phase – but you cannot concede the next one a few minutes later; it is not good enough. It has to be a lesson learned for them [the players].

“The positive is the first half. I think we played really good football. but the game was stopping for injuries for four-five minutes and we couldn’t get back into our high tempo game.

“Learn the lesson is the only thing that you can take from today.”

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