Walsall Under-18s' difficult start to the season continued, with a 5-1 loss to Rochdale at Ray Hall Lane.
The Young Saddlers struggled against a well-organised Rochdale side, who applied constant pressure throughout. Jadel Yaduat was running the show for ‘Dale, scoring three goals in the process.
The first chance of the match fell to the visitors. After some acute footwork, Jordan Scanlon was fouled in the box and awarded a penalty. Paul Kyffin stepped up to take but Walsall ‘keeper George Barrett was quick to dive to his right and save. This chance was an early warning sign for what could be a difficult match for the hosts.
Jaduat’s first came just before the half-hour mark, where he found himself with room in the box and was able to smash the ball past Barrett’s left side.
Just five minutes later, Rochdale doubled their lead. Some intricate play by full-back Max Sutton and forward Scanlon in a tight area caught the Walsall youngsters out, before passing the ball across the box to Yaduat who could tap home into the empty net.
With half-time beckoning the Young Saddlers were struggling to maintain possession or create chances. Their best chance of the half was headed over by Piers Juliff and their other efforts amounted to little.
Early into the second half, the game seemed to level out with neither side grabbing a hold. Chances were few and far between until the hour mark. Rochdale’s prolific striker Jaduat found space within the box to head the ball past Barrett for his hat-trick.
Walsall fought to bring the match to the visitors and force their way into the opposing team’s half. Balls were being consistently played to Marvellous Onabirekhanlen and William Uchenna but the Rochdale defence were there to match and force the strikers back. This seemed to tell the story of the match. The Young Saddlers were struggling to create any real opportunities.
Rochdale put the game to bed with a fourth goal, this time scored by Scanlon. Sutton sped past the Walsall defence and looped a ball towards the far-post. This was then picked up by Scanlon, and after a lovely bit of footwork, smashed into the roof of the net.
Walsall continued to fight and try to create chances, a long-range free kick from Antonio Cristofaro forced Bradley Kelly to palm it away for a corner, but ultimately it led to little.
Rochdale’s final goal was a volley from close range from Darren Ehimamiegho. Following some possession down the right side, the ball was crossed into the box and met by the ‘Dale player, beating Barrett in goal.
In the dying moments of the match, the Young Saddlers scored their well-deserved goal through Oliver Jones, who headed home following a corner.
The side will be hoping to change their fortunes in their next match, which is against Port Vale in the Youth Alliance Cup on Saturday.