Youth Alliance: Walsall 1 Oldham Athletic 2 Youth Alliance: Walsall 1 Oldham Athletic 2
Youth Alliance: Walsall 1 Oldham Athletic 2

Youth Alliance: Walsall 1 Oldham Athletic 2

Walsall Under-18s returned to EFL Youth Alliance action on Saturday morning as they played host to Oldham Athletic at Ray Hall Lane.
Looking to earn his side their first points of the New Year, Head of Youth Miguel Llera was able to name a strong side with plenty of strength in defence, firepower in attacking positions, and options on the bench.

Walsall XI: Rogerson; Coogan, Lynch, Hunter, Foulkes, Zona, Sarvari, Mukadam, Pearce, Campbell, McSkeane

Substitutes: Jackson; Derry, Francis, Taylor, Friel

The match got off to a terrible start for the Saddlers as they fell behind with less than twenty seconds on the clock when the ball fell for Junior Luamba.

The striker saw an initial effort saved - goalkeeper Dominic Rogerson doing well to block -before Luamba remained alert to tuck home the rebound.

The visitors could have doubled their lead within the opening seven minutes as Luamba's strike partner Callum Speed forced Rogerson into a save down to his right.

Latics stopper Mackenzie Chapman was not devoid of danger and, after the Saddlers finally found their feet, was forced into a save by Danny Coogan, who forced a block with a header from a corner.

Walsall would go on to level the scores seventeen minutes into the first-half as Luke Pearce was able to slot the ball past Chapman following Alex McSkeane's near header. A well deserved leveller for the Saddlers.

The Saddlers could have doubled their lead just a few minutes later as McSkeane and Pearce almost combined for a second goal as the former's cross saw a Pearce volley drift past the post.

Walsall were starting to take control of the match but Oldham were not without threat and saw a Zak Emmerson header edge just past the post with keeper Rogerson scrambling to get his angles right.

Sadly for the Saddlers they were ultimately unable to prevent the visitors from re-taking the lead as defender Kymani Hunter felled his man in the area resulting in a penalty to the travelling Latics.

Second-year scholar Reece Gaskell was the man to step up to the spot and went on to slip the ball home, putting his team back into the lead with around eight minutes of the first-half remaining.

1 - 2

The Saddlers had little time to settle as the second-half got underway with Zac Emmerson forcing stopper Dom Rogerson into a superb save to keep Walsall within a goal of their opponents.

Walsall were soon given the opportunity to capitalise upon Rogerson's save as Pearce was clattered inside the Oldham area as a duo of defenders were unable to cope with his speed and subsequently fouled their man.

Pearce would eventually regain his feet and take the spot-kick. However the young striker was unable to level the scores as goalkeeper Chapman saved with his legs. Agony for the young Saddlers as Oldham retained their lead.

Shortly after Drew Baker was booked for a foul on Saif Mukadam, the Saddlers saw an effort saved as McSkeane's free-kick fell for Joe Foulkes, sadly he couldn't generate enough power with a header as the Saddlers remained one goal behind.

As manager Llera continued to make changes to his set up with a view to getting back on level terms, the visitors looked to add to their lead as opening goal-scorer Luamba forced Rogerson into another save.

The Saddlers continued to push for an equaliser and saw a powerful effort saved as Chapman was equal to McSkeane's effort before second-half substitute Ade Francis was unable to beat the 'keeper to the rebound.

Luke Pearce, who was looking to make amends for his saved penalty, almost levelled the scores with five minutes of normal time remaining as his shot across goal beat the 'keeper but sadly slipped past the post.

The Saddlers went close again as time continued to run out as, shortly after Pearce saw a powerful effort saved, Francis was alert to block the 'keeper's clearance but Chapman was ultimately able to save before the ball was cleared.

Walsall continued to apply pressure as the match entered added on time and saw both a header from a corner and a Pearce volley go close as the Latics' goal was under siege, although seemingly able to withstand almost anything.

There were no further goals as the Saddlers suffered a disappointing defeat in their opening outing of 2020.
1 - 2
Pearce (17')

Luamba (1')
Gaskell (P- 37')
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