Vale reserves beaten at home by Walsall
Port Vale 0 (0) v Walsall 2 (1)
PORT VALE:Port Vale:Ryan Boot, Joe Evans, Dave Lander (Matty Warner 54), Will Whieldon, Graham Hutchinson, Jack Deaman, Josh Croft, Malcolm Melvin, Ollie Marland, Macauley Davies (Ricardo Swaby 60), Bradley Robinson (Jack Pryor 67).
Subs (not used):Joe Hemmings, Doug Price.
WALSALL:David Grof (Liam Roberts 46), Ben George, Mal Benning, Ben Purkiss, Dean Holden, Nicky Featherstone, James Baxendale, Richard Taundry (Josh Hawker 62), George Bowerman, Omari Sterling (Reece Flanagan 70), Ashley Hemmings.
Subs (not used):Danny Griffiths, Jake Heath.
Port Vale Reserves fielded a mixture of U18 players and trialists against a more experienced Walsall side on the training ground on a bright but cold afternoon. The trialists were two centre backs, Graham Hutchinson and Jack Deaman and two midfielders in Malcolm Melvin and Bradley Robinson. Hutchinson is a 20 year old with Birmingham who had 7 games on loan at Lincoln at the start of this season and Deaman, aged 19, is also with Birmingham after joining from Wrexham’s U18 team.
Melvin is with Aston Villa and is still only 17 years old but has played in their Reserves with some success and has also been capped by Scotland at U17 level. Robinson is 19 years old and currently with Man City after crossing the city from United as a 13 year old.
Vale were pegged back in their own half in the early exchanges and only made one serious incursion into Walsall’s half in the first 10 minutes. The pressure eventually told after 13 minutes when, although one attacker failed to bring the ball under control, it ran to Sterling who had time turn and drill the ball into the corner of the goal from 20 yards. The visitors nearly increased their lead two minutes later but Boot got a tackle in on Featherstone in a oene-on-on situation to save the day.
Vale’s first real threat saw Davies chase a ball played over the heads of the defence but the ‘keeper got there in time to clear the ball over the railings. Davies was back defending next and managed to get his head to a cross that deflected the ball into Boot’s hands and safety. Croft and Marland then had crosses that were taken by the strong wind and went too long to cause a problem.
Deaman was not having a comfortable game and seemed to be having problems adjusting to the conditions and another mistake by him left Boot to again come to rescue with another save with outstretched foot. Baxendale had the next chance for Walsall but blasted over before the half finished with the visitors well in control.
The second half began much as the first had played out and Boot was called on to make 2 good saves in the first few minutes after the restart. Marland hit a speculative 20 yard shot that saw the ‘keeper tested for the first time but he collected the ball at the second attempt. A number of substitutions then affected the flow of the play for a while but almost 20 minutes after the start of the period Marland had Vale’s best effort of the game as his shot was pushed around the post for a corner with Roberts at full stretch.
Swarby was having an impact for Vale since coming on and with 20 minutes left he created a shooting opportunity but he and Marland momentarily left the ball to each other and the chance was gone. 5 minutes later and the game was over as a cross reached Purkiss at the far post and he blasted the ball back across goal and into the net via the underside of the bar to make it 2 – 0 for the Sadlers.
Vale worked the ball along the forward line from Croft to Pryor and on to Marland, but his shot sliced off the side of his boot and was well wide of the goal. The final chance fell to the visitors as Featherstone broke into the penalty box on the left and pull the ball across the 6 yard line but Flanagan racing in at the far post was just unable to get a toe on the ball. Of the Vale trialists the most impressive was Melvin, who is also the youngest.
Match Report: Lindon Roberts