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Under 18s report: Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Walsall

20 February 2024


Under 18s report: Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Walsall

20 February 2024

Walsall Under 18s came from behind to earn a creditable draw away at Bolton Wanderers.

Harrison Fleury opened the scoring after 26 minutes for the hosts and the Saddlers also had Jenson Kilroy to thank after he saved a penalty from Fleury in the 72nd minute.

It proved to be a turning point for the visitors as Linton Chakki stepped off the bench to make his return from a five-month injury layoff to score the equaliser.

Professional Development Phase Coach Ryan Simmonds believes Chakki had earned his luck for all the hard work he has done during his rehabilitation and he was pleased with how his team played in the draw against the Trotters.

“I’m really happy,” Simmonds said.

“Bolton are a really good team and really organised. They had an Under 18s game going on, an Under 16s game going on and a B team training session going on so you can see how big a programme they have whereas all the Under 16s we have were with us on a matchday so to be able to get a 1-1 draw was brilliant.

“You could argue that we had the chances to get better than a 1-1 draw. The gameplan was about how we were on the transition and a few times we nearly got in which was pleasing for us.

“It was a bit of a stop-start game. Charlie Wragg had an injury quite early; Cayden Bennett went down with an injury so we had to make two subs early on and Linton came on, which was brilliant.

“He’s been out for five months and not once has he missed a rehab session, he’s done everything Meldrick (Gomes) has asked him and more.

“I firmly believe in karma and luck in this game. There is no way Linton should be in the box ready to score a volley but as luck happens, he’s there and he scores the equaliser and it was a great moment, not just for him but for the players who have seen how hard Linton has worked and we probably deserved the point.”

It was a long road back for Chakki who required surgery and worked hard with the physios during his rehab. 

Simmonds believes his goal was a reward for all his hard work and he has called on all the players to have a similar attitude when recovering from injury.

“I said to the players that if you want to look up to someone as a role model when you’re injured, Linton is that kid,” he commented.

“He’s been fantastic. He’s had a few dark moments because that happens when you’re injured but luck and karma comes into football and he actually told me it was his first goal in five years and I really do feel it’s down to luck and karma and the good stuff he has done for the last five months produces that moment for him.”

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