Fleetwood Town’s Under 18s have made it to the Third Round of the FA Youth Cup after an excellent 3-0 victory over Walsall on Tuesday night.
It was Fleetwood who went ahead in the early exchanges of the game thanks to a wonder strike from attacker Carl Johnston. The visitors had to wait for their second until after half-time, but it was well worth the wait after a well worked free-kick found James Hill who beat Saddlers’ keeper Dominic Rogerson.
Walsall pushed to get back into the match, but Town stood firm and grabbed their third after Ben Thompson’s deflected effort in injury time. A memorable night for Simon Wiles’ young side who matched the club’s best ever run in the competition with victory at The Banks’s Stadium.
On a chilly evening in the West Midlands, it was the Cod Army who started off the better side and with Cian Hayes causing the home side problems with his trickery, it led to a free-kick, and the first goal of the match.
Johnston was one of three stood over the set-piece, and after a delicate lay off from Barry Baggley, he curled his shot around the wall and past Rogerson. A perfect start!
Town could have doubled their lead ten minutes into the game. Baggley – who made his EFL debut for Fleetwood at Banks’s Stadium last season – delivered a ball that any attacking player would have wanted to see go across the penalty spot. Fortunately for Walsall, the ball skipped past striker Joe Collins.
Walsall had their first attempt at goal five minutes later. Captain Joe Willis found the ball at his feet 20 yards from goal, but his tame effort was easily caught by Scott Pengelly.
The hosts had a good spell in the match where they pushed Town back, making it hard to get out of their own half, but with some spark from Hayes, it was nearly two! Collins – who scored against FC Halifax Town in the last round – was margins away from tapping home the second.
With the first half over, it was Town who began the second half like they finished the first and when Hill saw the ball come his way on the edge of the box, he must have had only one thought in his mind. However, just as the trigger was being pulled, Sam Perry managed to poke the ball away.
Hayes was at it against, and with a flick and another twist he wormed his way into the six-yard box and chipped the goal keeper, only to see his effort cleared off the line. What a solo goal that would have been if it rippled the netting.
The second goal came moments later thanks to a thunderbolt header from Hill. After a set-piece that had been worked on at the training ground, Baggley picked out the tall centre-half to nod home.
The Saddlers’ didn’t let the second affect them, and when Willis found Luke Pearce with his free-kick, there only looked like one outcome. Pearce however couldn’t get the ball out of his feet to give the home side hope.
Collins had a glorious chance to really kill the game off under the floodlights, but his effort went narrowly over Rogerson’s crossbar following Baggley’s through ball.
Town soaked up some pressure from Walsall, and the hosts’ big chance late in the game came from their midfielder, Perry Moss – who like Baggley in the first half – sent his volley down the throat of the keeper.
With five minutes remaining, Johnston had the opportunity to grab his second and the killer goal. The Northern Ireland youth international got the connection he would have wanted, but not the accuracy on the finish as it flashed across goal.
Covy Smith – aged just 16 – made an appearance late in the game and helped Thompson bag the third of the match. His shot was on target, but took a slight deflection to trickle past Rogerson.
For only the third time in the club’s history, the Under 18s have made it into the third round of the FA Youth Cup – and thoroughly deserved after the performance the team put in from start to finish.
Walsall XI: Rogerson (GK), Coogan, Lynch, Willis ©, Zona, Perry, Moss, Mukadam, Pearce (Francis 63’), Campbell (Sharp 70’), McSkeane (Allamby-John 60’)
Subs not used: Francis (GK), Jackson, Dallaywaters, J.Perry, Taylor
Town XI: Pengelly (GK), Goldsborough, Batch, Boyle ©, Hill, Barrett, Johnston, Williams (Thompson 45’), Collins (Takpe 78’), Baggley, Hayes (Smith 88’)
Subs not used: Borwick (GK), Bird, Sithole, Patterson