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Under 18s suffer defeat in final pre-season friendly

3 August 2023


Under 18s suffer defeat in final pre-season friendly

3 August 2023

Walsall Under 18s suffered a 4-0 defeat in their final pre season friendly, despite a resilient performance against Shifnal Town's first team.

In the opening five minutes Shifnal, put The Saddlers under pressure and from a corner had the first effort on goal. George Barrett in the Walsall net was able to watch the ball sail over the bar.

The travelling Saddlers were then able to apply their own pressure on the break. Striker Piers Juliff cut in off the right flank but his shot deflected into the goalkeeper's arms.

A quick start to the game saw Barrett facing his first one on one of the game. The number one stood strong and made a good save to nullify the home sides attack.

After a sloppy free kick from the away side Shifnal found themselves on the attack.

Desperate defending from Tom Cox lead to a penalty being awarded to the home side.

The home side looked to gain an early lead only 22 minutes in, but Saddlers goalkeeper Barrett made a superb save down to his right to keep the scores level.

Shifnal had an even bigger chance just before the half hour mark as a loose back pass from Walsall ended up in the home side's possession after rounding Barrett, the ball was put wide of the post.

After the half hour mark, Walsall were able to work with the ball more and have their own spells of possession. Lead by high pressure from the forward duo, Juliff and Will Uchenna.

Barrett once again made a fine save from a Shifnal free kick. The following corner led to a goal line scramble that the number one was once again able to claim.

Keeping Shifnal out proved too much for The Saddlers and Barrett this time as they snuck a low shot into the corner from an indirect free kick right at the end of the half.

The second half started the same as the first ended with the home side piling on the pressure as a fast exchange of passes called Barrett into early action with another solid save to deny the home side a two-goal lead.

Another chance went begging for Shifnal to double their lead. A drilled cross was played back across the box. Cox was able to steer the ball over his own cross bar for a corner.

Jenson Kilroy followed in Barrett's footsteps with an outstanding save from a free kick destined for the top corner.

Unfortunately, minutes later, Kilroy would be unsighted and Shifnal would double their lead with 20 minutes to play.

Walsall struggled to maintain possession in the second half and were drawn into making fouls that lead to harsh decision from the referee.

Leading to the travellers falling to a four goal deficit within 10 minutes and Linton Chakki seeing a red card.

A well contested first half, followed by a controversial second half saw The Saddlers fall to a 4-0 defeat, but Professioanal Development Phase Coach Ryan Simmonds was not disappointed in the lads.

He said: "On the whole we are happy with the lads, which seems strange to say after a 4-0 defeat, but on the whole after 45 minutes it's nil-nil.

"And for a group of 16 and 17 year olds against a Step 5 team I'm proud of them."

The game capped off a positive pre-season for the group with four wins and three losses across the board.

Simmonds said: "Pre-season has been brilliant; you don't want to win every game and you don't want to lose every game.

We have had different opponents from Cat 1 and 2, educational and now men's and every test the boys have passed; in terms of their mentality, and learning a new style of play which is difficult."

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