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Academy

Report: Blackpool Under 18s 1-1 Walsall Under 18s

12 April 2022

Walsall Under 18s came from behind to pick up a point away at Blackpool on Saturday.

The Tangerines took the lead in the first half but the Saddlers improved in the second period.

An eventful second half saw Walsall awarded two penalties. Ronan Maher was unable to convert the first but Antonio Cristofaro steered home the second spot kick to equalise.

Professional Development Phase Coach Ben King was pleased with how his team approached the second half after their set back and display in the opening 45 minutes.

“First half, they had a stronger start than we did,” he said.

“We struggled a little bit on the press, the intensity and tactically they were able to play out from the back and switch the play a lot more than we hoped which meant we had a few issues in terms of being able to press in their half.

“They scored and went 1-0 up, more of a long ball but again, the press wasn’t quite right on the first one and the centre halves just got caught out of position and the goalkeeper’s held off a little bit which has allowed their striker through to score. They were stronger in the first half.

“Second half, when we spoke to them at half time, they could recognise the problems in terms of the press so we discussed solutions.

“One I suggested was one of the central attacking midfielders stepping onto the centre half a little bit more just to stop the switch and we went out in the second half and did that.

“The intensity in the press was a lot more aggressive and we started to dominate the game. We had a penalty that we missed, we then hit the post and then we got another penalty that we scored.

“On top of that, we had three injuries in the first half which meant we had to be a little bit make shift in terms of positioning but overall, really pleased with the reaction second half, really pleased that we became the stronger team and on another day, we walk away 2-1 or 3-1 so we’re happy in general.”

The Under 18s are now on a run of three matches without defeat and have lost just one of their last six matches.

King believes the players, particularly the younger ones in the squad, have built up a strong resilience and have benefitted from the experience of a difficult run earlier in the season and he is now pleased to see their hard work being rewarded.

“The environment has been really positive,” he commented.

“Especially for a very young squad, we’ve still got a lot of Under 16s and first years involved in these games.

“It’s nice for the first years because they’ve gone through a tough start to the season and built a resilience to Under 18s and Under 23s football and experienced a lot of minutes in that and you’re starting to see the benefits of that to some degree because they’re able to cope with the physicality and cope with the demands of Under 18s level.

“Overall, it’s nice to carry that momentum forward and we would like to do that for the remainder of the season.”

The Under 18s are next in action on Saturday 23rd April as they travel to Preston North End.


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