EFL Youth Alliance: Walsall 0 Rochdale 2 EFL Youth Alliance: Walsall 0 Rochdale 2

EFL Youth Alliance: Walsall 0 Rochdale 2

Walsall's Under-18s were back in action on Saturday morning as they played host to Rochdale in their latest EFL Youth Alliance - North West fixture of the season.
Saturday morning's match was the young Saddlers' first outing of 2019, and saw them come up against a team which thrashed them by four-goals-to-one during the reverse fixture earlier in the campaign, a favour Biggs' boys will no doubt have been keen to return.

Following something of a winter break, the Saddlers' most recent Alliance match saw them hold Morecambe to a one-all draw in early December as hot prospect Luke Little grabbed a goal in second-half injury time to cancel out Freddie Price's first-half opener.

Graham Biggs's side have found the season a bit of a struggle so far, winning just two of their ten league outings putting them 12th in the table, something they must improve upon if they are to avoid finishing near the foot of the table.

Opponents Rochdale are third in the Alliance table and won their most recent outing in style as they thrashed Blackpool by six-goals-to-two as Harrison Hopper, Fabio Tavares (2), Juwon Hamzat, Louis White, and Florian Yonsian all found the back of the net.

Dawe; Little, Brown, Petrovics, Leak, Leivesley, Willis, Perry, Flanagan, Nolan, Ruddock

Substitutes: Walker; Jac.Walton, Campbell, Jak.Walton, Moss
Wade; Martin, Neild, Dunne, Hamzat, White, Hopper, Phillips, Bradley, Kisimba, Moreland

Substitutes: Piper, Clarkson, Wright, Cullen

Today's match took place at the Birmingham County FA's headquarters, which is on Ray Hall Lane in Great Barr, was a competitive affair with both sides creating goal-scoring opportunities.

Saddlers stopper Ethan Dawe was called upon in the opening stages of the contest as the visitors looked to bag the opening goal of the game. The 'keeper, who joined the club from Notts County in 2017, was alert to the danger and pulled off a comfortable save.

Dawe was again called upon around ten minutes later, the prospect again saving well to keep his sheet clean. At the other end of the pitch, Saddlers forward Joe Willis almost opened the scoring as he saw an effort deflect wide of goal.

The two sides continued to prod and probe for goal-scoring opportunities, with the Saddlers growing into the contest, making for a closely fought affair with some nice football on display.

Rochdale started the second-half on the front foot, testing Dawe twice in quick succession, and went on to open the scoring eight-minutes into the period as Harrison Hopper slid the ball across goal allowing Lewis Bradley to tap in at the back post.

The Saddlers continued to look for a goal of their own but were often met by a firm defence as Dale looked to withstand the attack, and preserve their lead. Tyreece Ruddock crashing the ball wide after bursting away from his marker.

The Saddlers had a (small) shout for a penalty fifteen minutes from time as a player was brought to the ground during a post-corner scramble. The referee wasn't interested as the match continued.

Unfortunately for the Saddlers, Rochdale were not only able to withstand their advances but also went on to double their lead as Morgan Moreland smashed the ball home following Bradley's neat cross, Walsall's backline caught out as Dale sealed the win.

0 - 2

Bradley (53')
Moreland (84')
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