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FA Youth Cup: Walsall 1 Port Vale 1 (Pens: 0-3)

Here is our Match Report from the young Saddlers' FA Youth Cup - First Round clash with Port Vale.
Walsall Under-18s returned to action on Monday evening as they welcomed Port Vale U18s to Banks's Stadium for their meeting in the First Round of the FA Youth Cup.

After enduring a difficult start to their 2021/22 campaign, the Saddlers having lost all eight of their EFL Youth Alliance - North West outings, Miguel Llera's side were looking to make some progress in a cup competition.

WALSALL TEAM
Zach Hedge, Daniel Baldwin, Oliver Jones, Jack Shaw, Noel Angafor, Ronan Maher, Linton Chakki, Callum Derry, Samim Sarvari, Thomas Cox, Antonio Christofaro

Substitutes: Kymani Hunter, Marvellous Onabirekhanlen, Arjun Toor, Tommy Jackson, Rio Sawyers, William Uchenna, Shay Willock
PORT VALE TEAM
Joe Collinge, Dayo Ilori, Ellis Jones, James Plant, Festus Chale, Rhys Walters, Kamani McFarlane, Abdi Osman, Cele Filho, Durrel Manhertz, Tommy McDermott

Substitutes: Aiden Sharp, Ben Lomax, Cian McIntosh, Jack Riley, Halim Adekunde
 
The match started brightly with both teams creating minor openings, although neither 'keeper was forced into action as the two defences were awake enough to thwart attacks and protect their respective clean sheets.
 
It was Walsall who ultimately went on to open the scoring with twenty-minutes of the first-half played as Antonio Cristofaro, who had seen an earlier effort drift wide of goal, found the back of the net with an effort from distance.
 
The goal came as Cristofaro did very well to break inside from the left-wing to send an effort which evaded Vale 'keeper Joe Collinge and gave the Saddlers some welcome good news.
 
Despite their welcome lead, the Saddlers' task was made that little bit harder a few minutes later as Thomas Cox was shown a red card as he dragged Vale's Kamani McFarlane to the ground, the foul occurring just outside the penalty area.

The free-kick which came as a result of Cox's red card almost produced an immediate leveller as James Plant sent a curving effort over the bar and onto the post, with 'keeper Zach Hedge welcoming the intervention of the woodwork.

Walsall's Callum Derry thought he should have had a free-kick of his own a few minutes later as, after chasing sown a long clearance, he looked to have  been felled by Festus Chale, however the referee disagreed and the match continued.

The visitors saw a free-kick go wide of the goal just before stoppage time and went even close after the referee had confirmed two extra minutes as Rhys Walters did well to control a Plant pass before dropping his marker and forcing Hedge into a save.

HT
WFC
1-0
PVFC
 
There were no changes in personnel at the break, and the action was also unchanged as the Saddlers broke down the pitch thanks to Jack Shaw's strong run.
 
The midfield man opted to send a shot towards goal and forced Collinge into action as the ball bounced in front of the 'keeper, who was eventually able to push it past the post.

The visitors were next to mount an attack and were ultimately rewarded for their efforts as, after Plant had earned a corner kick, Tommy McDermott forced Hedge into a save, with the resulting corner being headed home by Ellis Jones.

Walsall went on to make a change after Vale's leveller as Shaw Willock, a former Solihull Moors prospect, took the place of Callum Derry in attack.

Soon after the Saddlers' swap, Vale made a change of their own as Halim Adekunle came on in place of Abdi Osman.

Not long after their change, Port Vale almost put themselves ahead as Plant's long-distance effort was spilled by Hedge before Adekunle battled to get to the ball and stab an effort home, however he was denied by Noel Angafor, who cleared off the line.

McFarlane continued to pose a threat for the Visitors and was involved in a trio of incidents; first came a minor shout for a penalty, which were rightly ignored, before the attacker went on to force the Saddlers' backline into action with a dangerous cross.
 
McFarlane's third incident was his closest to adding a goal as he forced Hedge into a save low at his near post, the Saddlers' defence allowing the Valiant far too much space and time in front of goal.
 
Vale continued to push for another goal, with the ever-present McFarlane and Plant seeing efforts forced wide of goal.
 
With around fourteen minutes of normal time remaining, Walsall went on to make their third and final change of the match, as Ronan Maher was replaced by Marvellous Onabirekhanlen in attack.
 
Not long after a minor Walsall attack was ended in its infancy as Cele Filho slid in to take the ball, the visitors went close to taking the tie as McDermott sent a bending free-kick over the Saddlers' bar and into the stand behind the goal.

McFarlane was soon back on the attack and this time was able to force Hedge into a save as his low effort won an ultimately unused corner kick.
 
McFarlane and McDermott continued to pose a threat to the Saddlers and almost produced a goal as the former was felled on the edge of the area, before the latter saw a free kick headed clear of danger.
 
Not long after the referee had given five minutes of added time, the visitors won a string of corners but were unable to grab a match-winning goal.
 
There were no further goal in open play as the match went to another thirty-minutes of extra time, despite the initial ninety ending in a stalemate.

FT
WFC
1-1
PVFC
 
The visitors made a change before the first-half of stoppage time got underway, as James Plant was replaced by Ben Lomax.
 
After being on the back foot for much of the second-half, it was the Saddlers who started extra time brightly as Shaw forced Collinge into a save with an effort from the edge of the area.

The resulting corner was ultimately wasted Daniel Baldwin has a free header, but he could only direct the ball wide of the post, keeping the game level.
 
Port Vale were soon back in search of another goal and went close once again as, after Durrel Manhertz was felled on the edge of the area, McDermott curled an effort over the bar.
 
Vale's next attack on goal resulted in another wayward shot, as Walters ended a scramble on the edge of the area with a wayward effort which cleared the bar with ease. The Saddlers backline being forced to defend far too deep.

Walsall looked to settle the game down and made another change, with Kymani Hunter taking the place of Oliver Jones.
 
Vale won a corner kick thanks to a deflected Manhertz effort but made nothing of the chance as the game reached half-time in extra time without a goal to separate the sides.

HT (ET)
WFC
1-1
PVFC

The second period of stoppage time got off to a slow start as many of the players began to feel the effects of the long-drawn-out contest, with several requiring treatment for cramp, the Saddlers having played with the men for most of the match.

Both teams eventually created openings but were unable to grab that match-winning goal, with Lomax for Vale and Baldwin for Walsall both seeing efforts go well over the bar.

Vale went on to win a late free-kick, with Baldwin getting his name taken, but couldn't trouble the scores as the match headed for pot kicks.

FT (ET)
WFC
1-1
PVFC

After 120 minutes of play, the teams couldn't be separated and the match ultimately went to a penalty shoot-out, with a place in the Second Round up for grabs.
 
Walsall: Sawyers ❌ Shaw ❌ Onabirekhanlen ❌
 
Port Vale: Jones ✅ McDermott ❌ McFarlane ✅ Lomax ✅

FT (AET)
 
WFC
 
 
1-1
PENS (0-3)
 
PVFC
 
Cristofaro (20')
Ellis (51')
AT
Banks's Stadium
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