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Under 18s come from behind to draw with Bolton Wanderers

12 April 2023


Under 18s come from behind to draw with Bolton Wanderers

12 April 2023

Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Walsall

Walsall Under 18s came from behind to earn a draw against Bolton Wanderers last weekend.

The Saddlers fell behind after just 12 minutes but improved in second half and equalised through Jaiy Leydon in the final 10 minutes.

It was a young Walsall outfit with Under 16s, next year's first year scholars, featuring in the game.

Academy Manager Rob Williams saw plenty of promising signs for the future and was pleased with how the players gelled and performed.

“We were a really young team, all first-year scholars and Under 16s - the new scholars next season and they’ve never played together in a competitive game as such so it’s one of those where you never know what you’re going to get,” he explained.

“We were a bit off the pace initially and you could tell that they hadn’t played together before. We sat off a little too deep and paid them too much respect which allowed the goal to happen. 

“They scored after about 12 minutes but after that, things settled down. We spoke at half time about everyone getting up the pitch 10 yards, getting a bit closer, engaging a bit higher and being more aggressive.

“Second half was a completely different game; we were by far the better team. We played a lot of good football, created multiple opportunities without really working the goal enough and then Jaiy scored on 82 minutes and we could have gone on and won it in the end.”

“It highlighted some of the reasons why we made decisions on the new scholars moving forward because overall, it was a really pleasing performance.”

The Easter period has been a productive one within the Academy.

Williams also feels the final weeks of the campaign are important for the group with one eye also on next season.  

“The Easter period fell at a good time for us because they’ve been in training everyday so we’ve had the whole group for two weeks solid,” he said.

“It’s a really important time and a good opportunity with a new coach coming in, he’ll get a chance to spend a couple of weeks with them before they break for the summer.

“We’ve got a long trip to Carlisle on Saturday so it’s a chance to get on the bus together and spend a bit of time together and that sort of social bit is really important.

“I’ve got a feeling they’re going to gel nicely as a group, we’ve got some really good kids joining us next year.

“The first years that are staying as second years will get tested and pushed because for me, the levels have gone up a little bit.”

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