Saturday, 10 February 2018

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Youth Alliance: Blackpool 1 Walsall 0

Walsall's Under-18s were back in action on Saturday afternoon as they travelled North to take on Blackpool Under-18s in their latest EFL Youth Alliance fixture of the season.
Walsall's Under-18s were back in action on Saturday afternoon as they travelled North to take on Blackpool Under-18s in their latest EFL Youth Alliance fixture of the season.

Graham Biggs' young Saddlers sat in twelfth position ahead of this afternoon's clash, having won just three of their thirteen games. Walsall's most recent outing saw them draw two-all with Wrexham at Ray Hall Lane.

John Murphy's seventh-placed Blackpool hadn't played an Alliance fixture for a couple of weeks, with their most recent outing coming in the form of an FA Youth Cup victory over Ipswich Town.

The Saddlers started the game well and were the better side for much of the opening ten minutes with Dan O'Sullivan and Owen Nolan both having efforts on goal. While Ethan Freemantle saw a cross cleared as the home side were forced onto the back foot.

Blackpool managed to quell the Saddlers' threat and created a few openings of their own as the half went on. The Seasiders' best opening arriving as the half reached the midway point as Rowan Roache lifted an effort over the bar following a swift counter.

Walsall thought they had opened the scoring shortly after the home side's opening as Freemantle found the back of the net, sadly for the Saddlers the referee spotted an offside and play was bought back.

Both sides continued to create openings as the half continued. Blackpool's Dylan Sumner and Walsall's Ethan Freemantle both got their heads to crosses but couldn't find the target as neither 'keeper was called into action.

Walsall had further openings as the match neared the halfway point, firstly by hitting the post then as former Stratford Town prospect Dylan Parker forced Blackpool 'keeper Craig Thordarson into action, the youngster producing a superb save to keep the scores level.

0 - 0

Blackpool started the second half with an effort on goal as Roache fired a free kick over the bar as both sides searched for the opening goal of the game.

Walsall's Ethan Freemantle continued to be involved in the action as he forced a save out of the 'keeper with Thordarson getting down well to keep his sheet clean.

The hosts had two more opportunities to open the scoring as the half continued. The first coming after fifty-six minutes as Nathan Shaw controlled a cross and smashed a volley into the side netting, then Owen Watkinson lashed the ball wide from the edge of the area when in a fair bit of space.

Both managers made substitutions as the half continued, the Saddlers bringing on Stefan Mason, Debert Massamba and Tyreece Ruddock. With Owen Nolan, Ethan Freemantle and Joe Cairns the trio to make way.

Walsall's Sam Leivesley saw an effort blacked with around ten minutes of the game remaining. Will Avon doing well to read the flight of the ball. The resulting corner came to nothing as the game continued.

The home side also went close in the closing minutes as Emil Jaaskelainen's ball in found Dylan Sumner in space, but the youngster could only volley wide of goal.

Saddlers stopper Brandon Ganley was called into action late on as Jaaskelainen met a Roach corner with a powerful header.The stopper doing well to gather as both sides continued to look for a goal.

Disappointingly for the Saddlers,their hosts would go on to grab the game's only goal in second-half stoppage time as Will Dunne let fly with a bicycle kick following Jaaskelainen's flick-on. A devastating blow for the young Saddlers as a game full of chances ends in defeat.

1 - 0
Dunne (90+1')

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