Walsall Ladies crashed out in the first round of the League Cup last Sunday as they suffered a disappointing 1-9 defeat to local neighbours Walsall Wood.
The Saddlers came into this game on the back of a few weeks rest following their last two previous fixtures being cancelled.
Prior to kick off, Ladies manager Jason Barrowclough expressed that spirits were high in the camp following their last outing in which the team secured a convincing 0-8 win away at Wyrley Women’s Reserves but was keen to express that this game would be a difficult affair, referring to Walsall Wood as a well drilled side who will test his team at every opportunity.
This proved to be the case as it was the visitors who were on the front foot from the get go as they took the lead with their first meaningful attack in the 2nd minute. A free kick on the edge of the box cannoned off the crossbar but Wood were the first to react as they nodded the rebound in from close range to give themselves an early lead.
Shortly after the opener, Wood extended their lead in the 5th minute. After winning the ball back in midfield, a through ball was played in behind the Saddlers defence and the attacker managed to reach on to it before the rushing defender to calmly dispatch and make it 0-2, much to the delight of the visitors’ dugout.
A bad start for the Saddlers only got worse as in the 8th minute it was 0-3. A short corner took the Ladies by surprise and the resulting cross was met with a powering header in the box leaving goalkeeper Holly Cox with no chance.
With a flying start to proceedings for the visitors the Saddlers were almost starstruck but as play progressed, they started to put together some chances and pressure on the Wood backline. Top scorer Kelly Fowell tried her luck following a Rachel Watkins corner but dragged her effort wide and in the 26th minute Roxie Dodds came close to give the Saddlers a way back into the game with her effort from the corner being cleared off the line in the 26th minute.
Despite the chances, the Saddlers couldn’t capitalise and Wood made them rue their missed opportunities with another goal in the 31st minute to make it 0-4 and in the dying embers of the first half they made it 0-5 with a superb long-range effort which rippled the net.
With the second half underway, the Saddlers knew they had to do better and in the 50th minute they came close to scoring. Bethany James managed to beat the offside trap and ran through towards goal looking to add to her goal tally. The striker managed to get around both the defender and the on-rushing goalkeeper and aimed at goal but her effort didn’t have enough power as Wood were able to clear, despite captain Sophie Ball doing her upmost best to ensure it crossed the line.
Minutes after this and the Saddlers were again put under some pressure from the visitors. After a neat exchange, Wood found themselves through on goal but goalkeeper Cox produced a brilliant save to deny the attacker and it wasn’t long before she saved again, this time with her leg from a low effort with it eventually going out for a corner. The resulting corner however saw the visitors make it 0-6 with the last touch coming off Saddlers defender Emily King.
In the 63rd minute, Wood showed their clinical edge and added another to make it 0-7 with a perfectly weighted effort which sailed past the keeper.
Midway through the second half and Wood scored once again. Following a Saddlers corner, play broke for the visitors and from the counter attack the attacker cut inside and sent a curling effort past Cox and into the net to make it 0-8.
Then in the 76th minute, the Ladies were awarded a free kick and from this captain Ball found herself unmarked and she headed home a consolation goal to make it 1-8.
In the dying embers of the game, Wood bagged themselves another goal to make it 1-9 with an effort which looped over goalkeeper Cox and into the far corner.
That was the last of the action as Walsall Ladies suffered a disappointing 1-9 defeat to Walsall Wood on home soil.
Photos courtesy of Jenny Merrett and Kevin Grice