Checkatrade Trophy: Walsall 3 Middlesbrough U21s 1 Checkatrade Trophy: Walsall 3 Middlesbrough U21s 1
Posted by: Bescot Banter

Checkatrade Trophy: Walsall 3 Middlesbrough U21s 1

Here is our Match Report from Tuesday evening's Checkatrade Trophy - Northern Group E clash between Walsall and Middlesbrough's Under-21s.
The Saddlers reached their midweek Checkatrade Trophy outing following Saturday's last-gasp victory over Bristol Rovers, Kieron Morris' injury-time winner proving enough to secure all three points for Dean Keates' side. .

Walsall won their opening EFL Trophy group game - a 2-1 victory over Burton Albion - and headed into this evening's clash looking to secure their second victory of the campaign ahead of their third and final group game, which will be against Port Vale.

Dunn; Wilson, Johnson, Fitzwater, Leahy; Morris, Ronan, Bates, Kouhyar; Cook, Gordon

Substitutes: L.Roberts; Vann, Guthrie, Devlin; McSkeane, Ismail; Parker
Middlesbrough U21s
Lonergan; Dodds, Stubbs, Hood, D.Spence, Ward, Liddle, Wing, Malley, Chapman, O'Neill

Substitutes: Hemming, K.Spence, Stephenson, Watts, Wilson, McGill

Walsall manager Dean Keates opted to shuffle the pack, giving some of his squad's fringe players an opportunity to impress as they look to force their way into the regular starting line-up.

Also among the new look line up were academy products Alfie Bates and Alex McSkeane, both have been entering solid performances for the club's development and youth sides and deserve a place in the team.

The Saddlers started the match well and forced Boro stopper Andy Lonergan into action with around two minutes on the clock as last weekend's goal-scorer Kieron Morris turned on the edge of the area before unleashing a low drive. His shot was tipped wide by Lonergan, however, the corner came to nothing.

Luke Leahy was the next Saddler to get Lonergan moving across goal as his long-distance efforts edged wide of the post, very close to the opening goal of the game with the 'keeper not completely sure of his angles.

On-loan Wolves defender Connor Jonson thought he'd opened the scoring with around fourteen minutes gone as he hit the back of the net from a corner, but sadly his effort was ruled out for an offside.

Walsall continued to push for an opening goal and went close after eighteen minutes as Leahy's free-kick was headed back across goal by Andy Cook, the ball hit a nervous Sam Stubbs and went wide of goal.

The Saddlers were soon rewarded for their positive play as they took the lead after twenty-six minutes as on-loan West Brom defender Jack Fitzwater unleashed a superb volley following Josh Gordon's less-tan -successful bicycle kick, Fitzwater flicking the ball into the air before turning and firing home.

Lewis Wing almost got the opposition back on level terms shortly after the opener as he found space and sent the ball crashing wide of Chris Dunn's goal.

Sadly for Boro they were not the next side to score as the Saddlers doubled their lead shortly after the half-hour mark with Maziar Kouhyar doing well to nod the ball home from Luke Leahy's flag-kick, a nice goal for the Afghanistan international.

The Saddlers almost added a third goal as the match neared the break as Morris got on the end of a Kouhyar cross to force Lonergan into a superb bit of goalkeeping, the experienced stopper somehow getting the ball away with Morris just yards from goal.

2 - 0

As with the first-half, the Saddlers created the first real opening of the half as Maz Kouyhar sent the ball wide of goal from the edge of the area. Cook's flicked pass finding the winger in space.

Andy Cook continued to provide a threat and could've grabbed his first goal of the game shortly after the hour mark as he forced the 'keeper into a save with a low drive following a well-worked corner routine.

On-loan Wolves midfielder Connor Ronan was the next man in a red shirt to have a shot at goal as his curling free-kick rose over the bar. The Saddlers continuing to apply pressure.

Unfortunately for the Saddlers they wouldn't have it all their way as Middlesbrough halved the deficit midway through the half as Connor Johnson's poor clearance hit a Boro man before falling to Dan Ward, the midfield man doing well to edge past his man before firing home.

With twelve minutes of the game remaining, and shortly after it was confirmed that there were just seven hundred and two supporters in attendance (a new post-war record), the as one summer signing replaced another with Zeli Ismail coming on for Josh Gordon.

Walsall would go on to put the game out of sight late on as summer signing Andy Cook received the ball in midfield, drove towards the area before unleashing a rocket of an effort into the far corner of Lonergan's goal. A well deserved goal for the Saddlers.

A superb performance from the Saddlers, who have given manager Dean Keates a bit of a selection headache when they return to first-team action later this month.

3 - 1
Fitzwater (26')
Kouhyar (31')
Cook (89')
Ward (67')

Attendance: 702 (9)
Referee: John Busby
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