Walsall Under 17s made it two wins from two in the EFL Floodlit Cup with a 3-1 victory over Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday 17th October.
Jaiy Leydon, Dylan Thomas and Ethan Davies all got on the scoresheet on a productive evening.
Youth Development Phase Coach Duane Allen was pleased with the result given there were some Under 15s involved as well and he felt the team grew into the match.
“First half we were poor,” he admitted.
“We had loads of the ball without really doing anything. We couldn’t make passes stick, first touches were off but we stayed in the game.
“We were quite predictable in the first half, we’ve got an Under 16s winger who’s got a bit of pace so we tried to get him in behind so it was a difficult one because they recognised that was what we were trying to do but we didn’t change the way we played, we kept trying to force it.
“We never looked like we were going to concede and when we did concede, it was one of the Under 15s full-backs who has headed it inside rather than defending so it’s a double-edged sword with regards to you are playing an Under 15 in an Under 17s game which is really good experience but he hasn’t got the how to win a game understanding that the Under 17s have got so he’s tried to head it inside to play when it might have been better to defend and get reorganised but it’s a great experience for him that he will learn from.
“Doncaster score from a penalty but then in the second half we dominated the game and got the result.”
The Under 17s have made a great start to the 2023/24 campaign with four wins out of five in all competitions.
Allen is keen to improve on last season’s third place finish and is aiming to go all the way in the Floodlit Cup.
He is confident the team can do just that and build on a solid start.
“It’s been good,” Allen said.
“The defeat was a disappointing one but we had eight Under 15s playing against Blackpool’s Under 16s and I think if we go a little bit stronger with regards to the Under 16s then we win the game.
“Again, you go back to the double-edged sword of what’s more important, the boys getting opportunities to play Under 18s or win games with the Under 16s and 17s.
“It’s a good start, last season we finished third having lost two games so we’ve identified now that we probably can’t slip up if we want to win the league but the cup is a different story and we feel we can go on and win it with the Under 17s that we’ve got and they are available to play because it’s a different day to a Saturday, it’s a midweek game so we can go fully loaded and as strong as we can.
“When we get a few back from injury, we’ll be even stronger. We’ve played two games in the group; we’ve got two left to play so hopefully we can get out the group and then have a go at winning it.”