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Central League: Preston North End 1 Walsall 1

Walsall's Development team were in action on Tuesday afternoon.
The Saddlers opened their 2021/22 Central League campaign with a trip to North End's Euxton Training Ground on Tuesday afternoon.

Managed by veteran defender Mat Sadler, Walsall fielded a young line-up as they looked to get the season underway with a win.

Coverage from the Saddlers was somewhat limited, but here we bring you our Match Report from Tuesday evening's clash.

WALSALL TEAM
Rose; Mills, Coogan, Bates, Leak, Angafor, Trialist 1, Trialist 2, Onabirekhanlen, Maher, Willis

Substitutes: Barrett, Sawyers, Derry, Shaw, Simcox

PRESTON NORTH END TEAM
Rudd; O'Reilly, Baxter, Rafferty, Huntington, Cunningham, Thomas, Potts, Wickham, Murphy, Leigh

Substitutes: Pradic, Coulton, Lewis, Walker, Rodwell-Grant
 
Despite their hosts putting out a strong line-up, it was the Saddlers who grabbed the first goal of the game as Trialist 2, or Trialist B, got the better of North End goalkeeper Declan Rudd with a volley into the top corner, putting his team ahead with just three minutes on the clock.

The home side were soon looking to create a goal of their own as trialist Connor Wickham had an effort blocked before recent arrival Josh Murphy dragged an effort wide of Jack Rose's goal on the follow-up.
 
Jack was in fine form during the opening stages, as he went on to prevent Jamie Thomas from scoring as he punched the forward's powerful free-kick clear as the home side continued to look for an equalising goal.

Preston were given a huge chance to level the scores with eighteen minutes gone as Brad Potts was felled inside the area. Wickham was the man to step up and take the spot kick but was thwarted by Rose who was able to make the save and keep his side ahead.

Walsall weren't always on the defensive and forced a save of their own as midfielder Alfie Bates gave Rudd something to think about with a free-kick of his own. A testing effort from Alfie.

Connor Wickham continued to have a big influence over the match and went close to opening his account for the afternoon a few minutes after the players had enjoyed a brief drinks break as he got on the end of a Jack Baxter cross to send the ball just over the bar.

The home side continued their search for a goal as Murphy forced Rose into a save with a powerful drive. Rose doing well to tip the ball over the bar as his defence were unable to close the ball down in time to prevent the effort.

Preston should have levelled the scores during the latter stages of the half as Potts and Wickham were thwarted before Adam O'Reilly saw an effort superbly saved. Plenty of pressure from the home side, but they were met with an in-form Jack Rose, who was giving the manager plenty to think about.

HT
PNE
0-1
WFC
 
The home side made a change at the break as Joe Rodwell-Grant replaced Josh Murphy, the Saddlers remained unchanged.

The North End substitute was soon involved in the action as he forced Rose into another fine save as his shot was tipped over the bar for an ultimately unused corner kick.

Preston's second change of the game saw Ethan Walker come on for Lewis Leigh.

Sadly for the Saddlers, and heroic 'keeper Jack Rose, Preston were able to level the scores on the hour mark as Potts sent an effort curling past the stopper and into the bottom corner of his goal. O'Reilly was the man ho created the opening as he went past his man far too easily before finding Potts in space.

North End's next effort came via Walker, who forced Rose to make a save, although his effort lacked the power needed to truly test the former Southampton man.

As temperatures remained high, there was a break in play for a water break which gave the home side an opportunity to make their third change with Lewis Coulton came on in place of Jack Baxter.

A good performance from the Saddlers - who had plenty of opportunities and even secured the lion share of the ball - as they began their campaign with a draw against strong and much-fancied opposition.
 
FT
PNE
1-1
WFC
Potts (60')
Trialist 2 (4')
AT
Euxton, Chorley

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