Youth Alliance: Walsall 1 Preston North End 3 Youth Alliance: Walsall 1 Preston North End 3
Youth Alliance: Walsall 1 Preston North End 3

Youth Alliance: Walsall 1 Preston North End 3

Walsall's Under-18s were back in EFL Youth Alliance action on Saturday morning as they played host to Preston North End at Ray Hall Lane.
The young Saddlers, who are managed by Graham Biggs, arrived at this morning's match looking to build upon last weekend's Alliance Cup draw with Shrewsbury Town, Alfie Bates' first-half penalty proving enough to secure the first point of the tournament for the young Saddlers.

Despite their best efforts Walsall went into the match without picking up a single win so far this league season and had drawn two and lost two of their opening alliance outings, putting them among the sides already engaged in a basement battle.

Opponents Preston were also in Alliance Cup action last weekend - the young Lilywhites defeating Huddersfield Town by seven-goals-to-nil - had won three of their four previous league outings and sat the third in the alliance the table, some six points below runaway leaders Wigan Athletic.

Today's meeting took a while to really get going as both sides looked to establish their passing game on a water-soaked Ray Hall Lane pitch. There was plenty of neat attacking play on display with the teams searching for openings.

Walsall's first on-target effort didn't arrive until shortly after the match had reached the thirty-minute mark as stopper James Cottram did well to tip the ball over the bar for a corner kick. The flag kick came to nothing.

Preston took control of the match as the opening half progressed, with the Saddlers forced back into defence for lengthy spells. Biggs' defence was well drilled and produced several blocks to deny the visitors an opening goal as we reached the break all-square.

0 - 0

The Saddlers started the second-half well and forced the first corner of the period with just five minutes gone. Perry Moss proving to be a nuisance for the Lilywhites' backline. Once again, the flag-kick came to nothing.

Shortly after Preston went close to scoring with a back-post header, the Saddlers had the ball in the net as Perry Moss slotted the ball home only for the assistant to flag as play was pulled back for an offside.

Walsall were the better side as the second-half progressed, Graham Biggs' side growing in confidence and forcing the visitors back up the pitch as they looked to create the opening goal of the game.

The Saddlers didn't have to wait too much longer to open the scoring as midfield man Owen Nolan was on hand to smash the ball high into Cottram's net following Joe Brown's deflected through ball.

Walsall's goal added a bit of heat to the game as Preston looked to get back on level terms. Goalscorer Nolan reading the game well to be in the right place at the right time as he blocked the ball on the line to help 'keeper Josh Griffiths to retain his clean sheet.

Sadly for the Saddlers they were unable to withstand the visitors' attack for long as North End captain Jack Baxter found space on the edge of the area and slammed the ball into the top corner.

Walsall's half went from bad to worse as Preston wasted no time in taking the lead as Tyrhys Dolan slipped the ball home from a near-post cross. Disappointing for the Saddlers as they were unable to settle down following North End's equaliser.

Walsall looked to get forward and attack but were soon punished again as, following an error from 'keeper Griffiths, North End grabbed a late goal to extend their lead and put a point beyond the Saddlers' reach. Jack Baxter grabbing his second and PNE's third.

A disappointing second-half for the Saddlers as - despite taking a deserved lead -  they once again the leave a match without a point. Walsall third defeat of the league campaign.

1 - 3

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