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Youth Alliance Cup: Walsall 1 Mansfield Town 2

Walsall Under-18s were back in action on Saturday morning as they faced Mansfield Town in the Youth Alliance Cup.
Managed by Miguel Llera's, the young Saddlers have been in fine form so far this season as they remain atop the EFL Youth Alliance (North West) table despite last weekend's narrow defeat to Accrington Stanley.

Winning four of their six Alliance outings, the Saddlers turned their attention to the Youth Alliance Cup as they took on the Stags' Under-18s in their opening game in Group three, where they are joined by Burton Albion.

Opponents Mansfield, who's first-team will be playing host to Darrell Clarke's Walsall's at Field Mill this afternoon, have already played one of their group games as they suffered a two-nil defeat to group leaders Burton.

Walsall Team
Walker; Baldwin, Lynch, Sharp, Foulkes, Dallaywaters, Francis, Mukadam, Campbell, Perez-Djah, Stephens
Substitutes: Allamby-John, Taylor, Worley, Sarvari, Kilroy

The opening stages of the match saw the two sides battling for the ball with both having sight of goal in the early stages. There was also plenty of defensive strength on display, Saddler Joe Foulkes doing well to deny the visitors.

The first effort of note came after around ten minutes of play and saw Saif Mukadam’s deep cross find a strangely unmarked Jayden Campbell at the back post. Campbell was able to set the ball up for the onrushing Troy Perez-Djah but his shot was blocked as the scores remained tied.

The visitors continued to look for an opener and, a couple of minutes after goalkeeper Lewis Walker had denied an attacker one-on-one, Foulkes was on hand once again as he slid in to steal the ball.

Despite the visitors' spell of pressure it was the Saddlers who would take the lead as a powerful Ben Dallaywaters free-kick stung the hands of the Stags' 'keeper before falling at the feet of Ade Francis, who happily slammed the ball home.

Even though they were in the lead the Saddlers' afternoon was suddenly made that little bit harder as, following a foul on an opponent, the referee saw fit to show Dallaywaters a red card, reducing the Saddlers to ten men.

The Saddlers made a slight change in formation and were able to hold onto their lead as the match reached the break.

-
HT
-
SADDLERS
1 - 0
STAGS

Unsurprisingly buoyed by their man advantage the visitors started the second-half on the front-foot and created a number of openings with goalkeeper Walker forced into action via a dangerous free-kick.

The danger didn't end there however, as the Stags went close to levelling the scores with Walker's crossbar being the victim of a strong effort, the clang of ball on metal echoing for all to hear.

A few minutes after Ramani Stephens had been replaced by Jayden Allamby-John the Saddlers almost doubled their lead as goal scorer Francis forced the visitors' 'keeper into another save.

Sadly for the Saddlers they were unable to keep hold of their lead for too long as the visitors levelled shortly after the hour mark, an as-yet unnamed scorer hitting the back of Walker's net.

The Saddlers didn't let the goal get them down and continued to look for another goal of their own as firstly Jayden Campbell sent a dangerous ball across the face of goal before defender Jack Lynch did the same thing, the only difference being a wayward header from Foulkes as the score remained tied.

Despite their disadvantage the Saddlers continued to hold their own, even venturing forward from time to time, frustrating their visitors who were forced to work hard for their time on the ball as Llera's lads looked to hold on to a point.

With time ticking down the visitors went close to stealing all three points but were once again thwarted by young stopper Walker who produced the goods in a one-on-one situation, not for the first time either.

Sadly for the Saddlers they couldn't hold on to the point as Mansfield snatched the lead with two-minutes of normal time remaining. A heartbreaker for the Reds who had done well to not only deny their opponents much of the play but created a few chances of their own.

The Saddlers looked to get back on level terms as they played out the final few minutes of the contest but were ultimately unable to do so as they suffered their second defeat in a week.
 
-
FT
-
SADDLERS
1 - 2
STAGS
Francis (19')

TBC (61')
TBC (88')
VENUE
Ray Hall Lane

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