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Academy

Academy round-up: Walsall Senior Cup and latest across the age groups!

1 February 2024

Academy

Academy round-up: Walsall Senior Cup and latest across the age groups!

1 February 2024

Here is all the latest news and results from across the Academy!

WALSALL SENIOR CUP 

Lichfield City 3-2 Walsall U18s

Walsall Academy Manager Rob Williams praised his players for producing an ‘outstanding’ display despite falling to a narrow defeat away at Lichfield City in the Walsall Senior Cup.

The Saddlers opened the scoring through Jaiy Leydon with a sensational lob from distance but the hosts hit back almost immediately.

Lichfield then raced into a 3-1 lead before Charlie Wragg pulled a goal back from the penalty spot but it wasn’t enough for the Saddlers who bow out of the competition.

Williams feels the experience will prove invaluable for what was a young squad that featured four Under 16s but he was delighted with how they performed against a strong senior team.

“We expected a tough game because they’re second in their league and we went really young as well,” Williams said.

“We had four under 16s in the group, nine under 17s so we had a really young group. It’s such a different challenge to Under 17s/18s football but they acquitted themselves really well.

“The first half was probably the best half I’ve seen us play all year in terms of the quality of football. We created multiple opportunities to get around the pitch, just didn’t quite have the little bits, the final pass, the final touch but we more than matched them physically, more than matched them in terms of work rate and we were by far the better team across the whole game, particularly in the first half where we played some outstanding football and we ran them really close overall.

“The biggest value of playing in the Walsall Senior Cup or Birmingham Senior Cup is that experience of playing a more senior, adult game because it is very different, even if you’re playing step 4 or step 5 teams, to what they’re used to. Academy football is different to that academy environment so the positives and lessons to learn far outweigh the rest of it.”

Under 15s Floodlit Cup

The Under 15s have finished second in their EFL Floodlit Cup group.

The Saddlers picked up victories over Crewe Alexandra and Port Vale while also drawing with Shrewsbury Town and Birmingham City.

While they finished the group stage without suffering a defeat, the Under 15s finished behind Crewe who automatically progress.

The team are now waiting on results elsewhere to find out if they can qualify as best runners up.

Youth Development Phase Coach Duane Allen admits he is slightly disappointed not to have won the group but still feels it has been an encouraging campaign.

“The campaign has gone quite positively,” he said.

“We’re happy but not overly happy. We went undefeated in the group with four Under 14s regularly in the starting XI which is a good achievement in a tough group however, we’re slightly disappointed that we haven’t qualified.

“We could have won against Birmingham and we could have won against Shrewsbury so missed chances on the day have probably cost us the chance to win the group.

“Crewe finished on nine points and we finished on eight having not lost a game so we’re slightly disappointed but also pleased because we’ve got a young group with so many Under 14s competing so well in a competitive competition.”


Under 17s Floodlit Cup

The Under 17s will travel to Blackpool in the knockout stage of the EFL Floodlit Cup after qualifying as best runner up.

Similar to the Under 15s, the team just missed out on top spot but Allen is confident heading into the next round.  

“It’s a difficult one with the Under 17s because of the number of changes we’re making with the Under 16s with scholars and different decisions,” he explained.

“The team against Mansfield that we lost 2-1 to, we were pleased with the performance on the day, just disappointed with the result but it was a much changed team as there were a few trialists, a few Under 16s and a few Under 17s so it was a group that probably wasn’t settled.

"With the next round coming at the end of February, we’ll have a much more settled group so we can be more confident going into the game.”


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