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Under 18s slip to defeat in six-goal thriller

26 April 2024


Under 18s slip to defeat in six-goal thriller

26 April 2024

Walsall U18s 2-4 Wrexham

A second Charlie Wragg brace in three home games wasn’t enough to give his side the win in the final home game of the season.

Just before the 30-minute mark, Wrexham opened the scoring. With the ball crossed in along the ground from the right, Harry Ashfield took a touch and slotted into the bottom corner. 

After a strong opening half hour, Walsall's heads went down and it did not take long for the visitors to double their lead. On 36 minutes Callum Edwards volleyed in a cross from close range.

One minute into added time, Kobe Wilkes picked the ball up at centre back and drove into midfield before playing a ball over the top for Wragg. The striker brought the ball down, beat a defender and held another one off and finished into the bottom corner with composure.

The comeback did not last long however, as a Wrexham free-kick that crashed off the post was rebounded in from a crowd of players in the box for the away sides third of the day.

Walsall kept pushing, with a goal coming on 72 minutes. Marley Roberts started the attack from left back and played it forward to Jaiy Leydon who flicked it past two defenders straight into Roberts' path. The left back took a touch and floated a cross into Wragg who tapped in for his brace. 

Wrexham again found themselves with just a one goal lead and it took just five minutes to reestablish their two goal lead, as James Rainbird headed in from close range.

Walsall battled on but couldn’t convert any chances they had in the final quarter of an hour. 

Despite the scoreline, Professional Development Phase Coach Ryan Simmonds felt it was an even match, with little to separate the sides. 

“I was really impressed with them today,” he said.  

“We asked them to compete, to work hard and to make it really hard for Wrexham and they did that. I think that it was a really even game on the balance, I think both teams were trying to play.  

“I think they (Wrexham) were better in both boxes, and I think that was the difference in the game.” 

He also commented on his players ability to control the game in parts. 

“When we play a 4-2-3-1, I think that we’ve got more people around the ball in the final third areas rather than a 3-5-2. 

“I think that Cayden (Bennett) Jacko (Jackson Preece) and Paul (Makavore), they showed real control of the game and then with Kobe (Wilkes) and Jacob (Pawlowski), two ball-playing centre-halves, they controlled the game really well.” 

Simmonds also spoke about Walsall fighting to the end and couldn’t help but praise his striker.  

“Wraggy has the opportunity to score his hat-trick, just a bad touch that lets him down,” he said.  

“By the way, I thought Charlie Wragg was outstanding. Two more goals, I think that takes him to 23/24 for this season.  

“He’s someone that works really hard, counter presses, exactly what the club are after, he’s just got to continue doing that and all of the boys, there at the end just trying to get back into the game, they showed a lot of heart there.” 

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