Walsall Under 18s fell to a narrow defeat away at Burton Albion in the EFL Youth Alliance Cup on Tuesday afternoon.
Callum Niven found the net after four minutes and it proved to be enough for the Brewers to take home the points in the opening game of the group.
The Saddlers responded well and Marvellous Onabirekhanlen had a goal chalked off for offside.
Despite creating chances, Walsall were unable to find a leveller but Academy Manager Miguel Llera wasn’t too disheartened with his team’s showing.
“I’m pleased with the general performance,” Llera said.
“We were better in the second half but I think we started the game a little bit slowly without the ball.
“We created chances but we weren’t clinical and we need to be more ruthless in the final third. In the second half we were much better than them.
“We created opportunities, we dominated the game and played good football at times. The referee disallowed one goal for offside but I’m pleased for the team, it was a really good performance.
“It was a young team, we had two Under 15s come into the team and they performed quite well so we’ll keep moving forward and take that performance into Saturday’s game.
“We finished the game stronger than them and we were on top of them in the final minutes so I’m pleased with that.
“The Chairman was there and he enjoyed the game.
“The team is growing. As soon as they realise that they can be more ruthless they will grow in confidence. As soon as we win the first game, I think more will come.”
The Under 18s will be hoping to pick up their first win of the season when they host Accrington Stanley at Birmingham County FA on Saturday in the league.
Kick-off is at 12pm.