Darrell Clarke feels his young side are getting back to the ‘Walsall way’

Posted Sunday, January 05, 2020 by PA

Darrell Clarke feels his young side are getting back to the ‘Walsall way’

Darrell Clarke feels his side are slowly getting back to the “Walsall way” after a youthful matchday squad beat Salford 2-1 at the Peninsula Stadium.

Caolan Lavery put the Saddlers ahead and Josh Gordon extended their lead after half-time, with Brandon Thomas-Asante pulling one back for the Ammies as Walsall leapfrogged their hosts in the table.

Cameron Burgess nearly levelled at the death for the Ammies but Walsall goalkeeper Liam Roberts produced late heroics.

And with seven of the matchday 18 being products of the Banks’s Stadium youth set-up, Saddlers boss Clarke was a happy man after his side triumphed despite being dogged by injuries and suspensions.

He said: “I thought it was always going to be a very, very tough afternoon, which it was, but you look at the squad of 18 and there’s seven lads that’s come through the academy system – an 18-year-old starting, two 17-year-olds on the bench.

“Liam (Roberts) pulls off that great save, he came through the system, so it’s probably getting back a little bit today to the Walsall way, but we’ve got to make sure that we don’t push these young lads too early and they keep learning and developing and they’re given that time to do that.

“I’m really pleased and the experienced boys were absolutely superb as well.”

Craig Conway fired over the bar before Jake Jervis later half-volleyed off-target as Salford started brightly.

Thomas-Asante found Luke Armstrong whose goal-bound flick was saved by visiting goalkeeper Roberts in the 20th minute.

Walsall went ahead when Wes McDonald’s cross found Lavery and though Chris Neal initially denied him, the Saddlers marksman bundled home the rebound.

Thomas-Asante’s drive forced Roberts into action before the break and James Clarke’s cross was met by Lavery after the restart but Neal intervened.

Walsall doubled their advantage when Neal denied Lavery twice, only for Gordon to stab home the loose ball.

Roberts saved Conway’s goal-bound cross but Thomas-Asante halved the deficit with a 62nd-minute finish from the winger’s delivery.

Roberts parried away Joey Jones’ thunderbolt and expertly stopped Burgess’ injury-time header to deny Salford a late leveller.

Salford boss Graham Alexander said: “I don’t think Walsall, and I’m not taking anything away from Walsall, but I don’t think they created loads of opportunities, but we’ve conceded two goals.

“We’ve had 25-odd shots and we’ve scored one goal. That’s where the reality lies so we have to improve the quality of both ends of the pitch if we want to improve our league standing.

“We’ve had, I feel after our Christmas results, the opportunity to really squeeze the gap on those play-offs and we’ve let it slide and we can’t look at anybody else but ourselves.”


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