Port Vale U18s 1-4 Walsall U18s
Ronan Maher scored four times as Walsall Under 18s came from behind to win emphatically against Port Vale on Saturday.
After falling behind in the first half, Maher scored two quick-fire goals early in the second half to turn the game on its head.
The Saddlers added a third to give themselves breathing space but Vale were presented with a route back into the game when they were awarded a penalty but Zach Hedge pulled off a fine save to preserve Walsall’s two-goal cushion.
Maher put the icing on the cake with a classy goal in the closing stages to round off a brilliant afternoon.
Professional Development Phase Coach Ben King was pleased to see Maher take on board what he said to him and get his rewards.
“He’s been working hard,” King said.
“You give him things to work on and he goes and does that. Some of the things we’ve discussed with him is being a bit more positive on the ball, taking first touches forward and not over-cooking the ball. He works hard, he’s tried to take that on board and tried to show that.
“After the first half, I spoke with him and said you need to do a bit more in terms of impact. I had someone man marking him first half and within 10 minutes of the second half that player was subbed off because he started offering a lot more angles and the first goal he scored was stepping off blindside of that player and then making the run through.
“One of those things is taking on board information and working on those things.
“The quality of those goals was fantastic.
“We went into the game with the strategy of having a very quick start. In the previous game, we’d discussed that we were a bit slow and sloppy in the first half so in this game we wanted to make sure we had a bright start and we did that in the first 20 minutes, we were the stronger team.
“Unfortunately, we conceded quite a soft goal and as the half went on, we did ok, had some play but gave them a few chances that we didn’t need to.
“We discussed it at half time and said there’s positives in there but we need to build on this now, be a bit more aggressive on the press and play a bit more from the back and in the second half, we did that.
“I was very happy with the performance second half and how the game went.”