EFL Trophy: Walsall 1 Southampton U21s 0

Here is our Match Report from Tuesday evening's EFL Trophy - Southern Group D clash between Walsall and Southampton Under-23s.
The Saddlers played out a goalless draw with Coventry City in their opening group clash - the Sky Blues going on to win a bonus point penalty shoot-out - and were keen to take maximum points against the travelling Saints.

Walsall Line-Up
L.Roberts; Scarr, Sadler, Jules; Liddle; Norman, Kinsella, Bates, Cockerill-Mollett; Gordon, Gaffney

Substitutes: Rogerson; K.Roberts, Leak; Kiersey, Hardy, McDonald; Adebayo

Southampton U21s Line-Up
Lewis; Ramsay, Klarer, O'Driscoll, Ledwidge, Vokins, Slattery, Jankewitz, Defise, N'lundulu, Hansen

Substitutes: Bycroft, Keogh, Turner, Chauke, Rus, Norton, Mitchell

Kory Roberts was named on Walsall's bench as they highly-rated defender takes a huge step in his bid to return to action following a lengthy spell on the sidelines after suffering a double leg break during a pre-2018/19 clash with Stoke City.

The young Saints got the match underway and it was the visitors who created the first opening of the contest as captain Callum Slattery finished off a neat attacking move as he drove into the area and sent an effort over the bar.

The Saddlers started the game off a little slowly and though they'd got in on goal as Cameron Norman found Rory Gaffney in space before referee Peter Wright called play back for an apparent offside.

Southampton continued their calm, controlled display and saw another effort clear the bar as Jake Vokins was able to get on the end of a poorly cleared corner to send a half-volley over Liam Roberts' crossbar.

Walsall soon managed to create an opening of their own as Josh Gordon, who was looking to force his way back into the starting XI, was able to cut inside his man before seeing an effort deflect wide for an ultimately wasted corner.

Southampton were soon back at the other end and went close to opening the scoring as Lucas Defise got on the end of a long ball and attempted to lob the on-rushing Roberts with a first-time effort. Thankfully for the Saddlers the ball was far from accurate as it landed in the stand behind goal.

Walsall went on to create an opening of their own as a corner fell to on-loan Salford City striker Rory Gaffney who subsequently forced another flag kick with a low effort.

The resulting corner came to nothing but the Saddlers did eventually earn a free kick which was fired in by Cameron Norman as Gordon could only send a header wide of goal.

Gaffney was back in attack a few minutes after Gordon's wayward header as he created some shooting room out wide but could only blaze an effort over Harry Lewis' crossbar.

Walsall continued to force the Saints back and were rewarded for their efforts on the stroke of half-time as defender Zak Jules recovered the ball from a poor corner and worked his way into the box before finding Dan Scarr in space, the former Blues defender slotting home.

1 - 0

Walsall manager Darrell Clarke made a change at the break as Wes McDonald, who had grabbed his first professional goal during Saturday'a League Two win over Crawley Town, replaced Callum Cockerill-Mollett on the wing.

McDonald continued his lively display from the weekend and was soon looking to get forward and attack, the 22-year-old forcing the 'keeper into a save with a curling effort on goal.

Southampton's first effort of the second half came via Dan N'Lundulu as the young striker sent a curling effort wide of goal. He probably should've done a little better as the Saddlers remained in the lead.

Wes McDonald's search for his second goal in a week continued as the London-born winger showed plenty of neat control to get into the box but his ball in was well read by former Manchester City man Aaron O'Driscoll, much to the frustration of the waiting Josh Gordon.

The Saddlers were soon back on the attack and saw a Norman cross cleared for a corner. The resulting flag kick found Gordon in space but the ex-Leicester City attacker couldn't beat the 'keeper who gathered the ball.

The visitors' next chance came via the lively Dan N'Lundulu as the former England Under-16 international found space in the area before turning and firing an effort over the bar. The ex-Chelsea apprentice doing well to make room but will be disappointed with his effort.

Some of the 732 fans in attendance though the Saddlers had doubled their lead as we reached the seventieth-minute when Liam Kinsella's cross found Gordon who saw an effort deflect into the side netting of Lewis' goal.

The resulting corner saw another effort clear the bar as Norman headed over. The Saddlers still unable to make the most of their set-pieces, something the manager will no-doubt be keen to work on over the course of the campaign.

Josh Gordon continued to be a pain in the Saints' backside as he remained alert to dispossess a weary defender before firing an effort straight at the grateful goalkeeper. Another disappointing effort although not sure goalkeeper Lewis will see it that way!

Walsall stopper Liam Roberts was soon called into action as second-half substitute Christian Norton was able to benefit from a Scarr miss-kick to send an effort towards goal. Roberts had to be at his best to preserve his clean-sheet.

Darrell Clarke made his second change of the game as Elijah Adebayo replaced the ever-present Josh Gordon in attack. Former Fulham man Adebayo joining McDonald in the hunt for a second goal in just a few days.

The Saddlers were awarded a late free kick as the lively McDonald forced Christoph Klarer to 'take one for the team'. Sadly for the Saddlers the resulting free-kick came to nothing with the score remaining 1-0.

With the match already in injury time manager Clarke took the opportunity to reward the patience of Kory Roberts as the defender took to the field in place of Rory Gaffney. A great moment as the prospect made his welcome return to action.

After what seemed to be a lengthy four minutes of injury time there were no further goals as the Saddlers earned their fourth victory in a row keeping up their well-earned momentum heading into the weekend's League Two clash with Salford City.

1 - 0
Scarr (45')

Attendance: 732
Referee: Peter Wright
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