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The FA Youth Cup: Fleetwood Town 3 Walsall 0

Walsall's youngsters were in FA Youth Cup - Second Round action on Friday evening.
After defeating Shrewsbury Town by four-goals-to-nil in the First Round the Saddlers were pitted against Fleetwood Town in the Second Round with both sides battling to be the one which faces Crystal Palace in the Third Round.

Managed by former Sheffield Wednesday man Miguel Llera, the young Saddlers have started the 2020/21 campaign well, with their performances in the Youth Alliance being a particular highlight.

WALSALL TEAM
Walker; Foulkes, Lynch, Sharp, Zona, Campbell, Francis, Mukadam, Stephens, J.Perry, Perez-Duah
Substitutes: Barry, Allamby-John, Derry, Simcox, Taylor, Baldwin, Sarvari

FLEETWOOD TOWN TEAM
Eastham; Bird, Batch, Wilson, Patterson, Barratt, Collins, Thompson, Smith, Edwards, Hayes
Substitutes: Borwick, Sithole, Hoyle, Fenton, Feeney, Nordwind, Arthur

The opening few minutes of the match saw much of the play consigned to the middle of the park as both teams looked to find their feet on a chilly evening in the North West.

The first real shot on goal came the way of the home side as a sweeping run resulted in Covy Smith's effort ball clearing the Walsall bar. Much to the relief of goalkeeper Lewis Walker, who had invited pressure upon himself with a poor goal-kick.

At time Walsall struggled to retain the ball as the home side sought to pass and play, hoping to create some space for another attack on Walker's goal.

The occasional lack of the ball didn't rule the Saddlers out of goal-scoring chances as a neat attacking move saw Kyle Sharp send an effort wide of goal.

Following a poor Saddlers free-kick the home side did well to win a corner as Cian Hayes saw a cross blocked, with the resulting flag-kick seeing Ben Thompson's well-placed cross headed over the bar.

The home side were the next to create an effort on goal as another well-worked move forced the Saddlers' backline into action as a Danny Edwards effort was blocked. The corner which came after the block saw the Cod Army open the scoring as Joe Collins was able to tap home after Walker had saved the initial effort.

After falling behind Walsall looked to build an attack or two of their own but were thwarted by the Fleetwood backline. Whilst looking for a goal the young Saddlers also had be be alert at the back as the home side's passing prowess was on display for all to see.

The home side continued to create half chances with Danny Edwards finishing off a ducking and diving run by forcing Walker into action, whilst teammate Sam Barratt lifted an effort over the bar from distance.

The home side earned a free-kick near the corner flag after around thirty-minutes of play and almost grabbed another goal as the ball flashed across the face of goal needing just the slightest of touches to double their lead.

Walsall soon created an opening of their own and forced the Fleetwood backline into action as Jayden Campbell continued his impressive spell, although his ball in was eventually cleared by the home side.

The Saddlers gifted their opponents a chance to grab a second goal as Joe Foulkes brought Hayes down inside the area, forcing the match official into action. The penalty was happily dispatched by the home side as Smith grabbed his and Fleetwood's second of the match.

Buoyed by their second the home side almost created a third as they broke back down the pitch and wasted a couple of promising openings with the attackers being guilty of going for glory, despite being surrounded by markers.

Walsall's Luke Zona saw an overhit cross easily gathered by home 'keeper Connor Eastham in the dying minutes of the half but ultimately the score remained the same as Fleetwood reached the break with a deserved two-goal lead.

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HT
-
FLEETWOOD
2 - 0
WALSALL

The home side started the second-half well and kept the Saddlers' backline bust as they prodded and probed in search of their third goal of the evening. Walsall defender Jack Lynch doing well to deny Danny Edwards with a sliding tackle.

Walsall were the first to make a change as Jayden Allamby-John took to the field with Ramani Stephens heading for the bench.

The Saddlers went on to enjoy a spell of possession following the substitution and saw a promising opening go begging as Jayden Campbell sent the ball wide following a superb Mukadam cross. The Cod Army backline scrambling to get back.

Fleetwood were gifted with an opportunity to grab a third goal as Harry Wilson forced a defensive effort which allowed the home side in on goal, thankfully for those in yellow the attacker would make the wrong decision as the opportunity was wasted.

Sadly for the Saddlers, the home side were soon given yet another chance to add to their lead as goalkeeper Walker gave away a penalty with a poor challenge on Smith. The keeper was soon able to redeem himself however, as he made the save with Smith unleashing a tame effort from he spot.

Walsall went on to make their second change of the game as a disappointed Joe Perry was replaced by Daniel Baldwin, manager Miguel Llera looking for some fresh legs.

Much of the play continued to occur in the middle of the pitch as neither side was willing to give an inch as they looked to take their place alongside Crystal Palace in the Third Round.

Not long after Collins' poor touch was read by Lynch in the Walsall backline the Saddlers went on to win a free-kick around thirty-yards from the Town goal. Sadly the promising was not only wasted but completely stolen by the home side as they went on to grab another goal.

The man to grab the home side's third was the ever-present Smith netting following Collins' superb assist, his pinpoint cross exposing the Walsall defence as the home team all-but sealed their place in the next round.

Walsall were soon back on the defensive as a promising position was again turned on its head as the home side broke up the field and forced another corner, which, thankfully for the Saddlers, was cleared.

Saddlers defender Joe Foulkes then produced a superb sliding tackle to thwart another Fleetwood attack, the home side seemingly having their way with the Walsall midfield as they were once again able to break down the pitch.

Frustrated by his team's display, academy manager Miguel Llera went on to make another change as Bradley Taylor replaced Adé-Lamarr Francis in attack. Taylor looking to add to the late goal he managed against Shrewsbury.

The home side went on to make a change of their own as Joe Collins was replaced by Shaun Sithole. After a short spell of play the home side made their second change as Billy Batch was replaced by Brad Arthur.

Walsall's next attack on goal saw a long ball over the top floated too close to the 'keeper, allowing the home side to get back on the ball and slow the game down.

The Saddlers continued their push for a goal of their own and saw an effort saved as Jayden Campbell finished off an attacking move with a fairly tame effort straight into the hands of Eastham.

With just eight minutes of normal time remaining Town then made their third and final change of the game with double goal-scorer Covy Smith being replaced by Matty Fenton.

Walsall's struggle continued as a Sam Bird forward drive earned Fleetwood a free-kick just outside the area and, although it ultimately came to nothing, it allowed the home side to take a few more minutes off the clock.

With three minutes of injury time added there was a pause in proceedings as Harry Wilson looked to have taken a hit to the head. Thankfully he was able to regain his feet and the match got back underway.

There were no further goals as the home side secured their place in the Third Round of the competition. A disappointing evening for the young Saddlers.

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FT
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FLEETWOOD
3 - 0
WALSALL
Collins (19')
Smith [P] (39')
Smith (69')




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