The Saddlers picked up all three points in their first outing of the season in the Papa John’s Trophy against Brighton and Hove Albion Under-23s thanks to a single first half goal from striker Kieran Phillips.
In a first half that wasn’t littered with chances, it was the visiting side who threatened early on with the dangerous striker Evan Ferguson.
After just five minutes, Ferguson got the better of his opposing defender and looked to test Jack Rose in the Walsall goal but his effort was high and wide of the front post.
Minutes later and the lively Ferguson was at it again, this time as his well-timed run was matched with an equally timed pass in between Ash Taylor and Rollin Menayese, but his low effort back across goal was brilliantly saved by Rose.
Again, just minutes later and more good movement in the opposition camp nearly resulted in the opening goal. This time, Jeremy Sarmiento turned into space 30-yards out before driving into the 18-yard box but his left-footed effort curled wide of the far post.
It wasn’t until after the half an hour mark that the Saddlers really tested Brighton keeper Tom McGill. After good work from Hayden White, his cross found Emmanuel Osadebe who in turn set up Joss Labadie but his right-footed effort was parried away and nothing else came from that chance.
A moment later and the Saddlers came close again. Phillips managed to pinch the ball off Hayden Roberts with his tenacious work but fortunately for the visitors, Phillips could only find the side netting.
With a minute to go of normal time at the end of the first half, the Saddlers took the lead. After a scramble in the box from an Osadebe free-kick, Phillips was on hand from close range to turn the ball home into an empty net.
Into the second half and much like the first 45, it wasn’t a half that was blessed with chances for either team.
The first telling bit of action came just before the hour mark but it wasn’t in the form of an attacking bit of play. Osadebe was on the ball in the middle of the pitch and a dangerous challenge came in from the experienced Gary Dicker which resulted in him being shown a straight red card by referee Bobby Madley.
Not long after the red card, it looked as though Phillips was going to double his and Walsall’s tally for the evening as he was slipped in behind but his low effort was well saved by the onrushing McGill.
Following the red card, the young Seagulls side were forced to sit in behind the ball resulting in Matt Taylor’s side going on to command the game and see out the remainder of the game comfortably.