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Youth Alliance | Walsall 1 Fleetwood Town 0

Walsall's Under-18s were back in action on Saturday afternoon as they played host to Fleetwood Town in the EFL Youth Alliance.
Graham Biggs' Walsall Under-18s returned to Youth Alliance (North West) action on Saturday afternoon as they played host to Fleetwood Town at Ray Hall Lane. Here is our brief match report.

Ganley; Mason, Fisher, Leak, Brown, Leivesley, Flanagan, Bates, Cairns, Candlin, O'Sullivan

Substitutes | Dawe; Friel, Massamba, Nolan, Parker
Turner; Kerrigan, Blackburn, Bani, Unsworth, Mashigo, Bishop, Collins, Finlayson, Bridge, Rydel

Substitutes | O'Halleron, Clayton, McCaragher

The young Saddlers, who hadn't been in competitive action for almost three weeks, sat in twelfth position ahead of kick-off, having won just two of their seven group games. Opponents Fleetwood were at the foot of the table after suffering seven defeats in their nine group games.

The match got underway in swift fashion as Biggs's boys wasted little time in bagging the first goal of the season. Striker Joe Cairns raced clear of the Fleetwood backline and slotted the ball under Cod Army 'keeper Harry Turner.

Hot-prospect Mitchel Candlin had a chance to double the Saddlers' lead around five minutes after the game's opening goal as Dan O'Sullivan whipped in a dangerous cross but Town stopper Turner easily gathering the ball as Mitch couldn't find an angle.

The visitors had a great chance to level the scores after seventeen minutes as captain Dominic Kerrigan found space on the right and drove into the final third. His shot was no trouble for Walsall 'keeper Brandon Ganley as the scuffed effort drifted wide of goal.

Fleetwood continued to look for an equaliser and again went close as midfielder Jack Bishop dragged an effort wide from the edge of the area. Nothing to trouble the 'keeper, but another warning shot as the visitors looked to get the match back on level terms.

The Saddlers reached the break with their lead intact as the visitors failed to make the most of any chances they created.


The Saddlers, who got the second-half underway, made a change ahead of kick-off as Ben Friel replaced Joe Brown.

Fleetwood flew out of the traps in the second-half and created the first chance with around a minute on the clock as Liam Collins got behind the Saddlers' backline and forced 'keeper Ganley into a save.

Town continued to search for an equaliser and had another effort on goal with around ten minutes of the second-half in the books as Owen Bridge volleyed the ball straight at Ganley. Plenty of space in the box for Bridge, but a comfortable save.

Graham Biggs made his second change of the match soon after as Debert Massamba replaced Dan O'Sullivan.

Shortly after the match reached the hour mark Saddlers forward Joe Cairns looked to double his and his side's tally as he looked to lob the 'keeper from distance. His effort hit the roof of the net as the stopper scrambled.

As time continued to tick away the Saddlers made their final change with recent arrival Dylan Parker, who joined the club from Stafford Town, coming on for goalscorer Joe Cairns.

Fleetwood almost levelled the scores late in the half as Brandon Ganley was forced into action twice in quick succession. The travelling side pushing high up the pitch as Walsall's defence sought to play out the final few minutes with three valuable points within their grasp.

The Saddlers had an opportunity to extend their lead deep into stoppage time as Fleetwood's high press allowed the Saddlers to break and present substitute Debert Massamba with an open goal to slot into, but the young winger could only find the post with his effort. Fellow sub Dylan Parker followed up but was caught offside.

Joe Cairns's goal after less than a minute of play was ultimately what won the game as the young Saddlers earned three much-needed points as they look to get their Alliance campaign back on track.

⚽ Cairns (1')

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