July 15, 2024



Walsall held Premier League side Aston Villa to a creditable draw as pre-season continued at the Poundland Bescot Stadium.

Danny Johnson made it two goals in two games so far in pre-season as he opened the scoring but his strike was cancelled out by Ollie Watkins’ penalty.

Both teams shared the minutes around their squad in the second half which saw little goalmouth action as the two sides shared the spoils.

Head Coach Mat Sadler named a strong team to face the Premier League outfit while the bench featured four trialists and academy defender Tom Owen.

The Saddlers made a lively start and looked to impose themselves on their top flight opposition.

Villa had the first meaningful opportunity when Douglas Luiz let fly with a shot but it took a deflection and went behind.

On 23 minutes, Watkins collected the ball and rolled it across the face of goal but it just evaded the arriving Aaron Ramsey who would have had a tap in.

It was Walsall though who opened the scoring when Villa failed to clear a corner and the ball fell to Johnson in the box and the striker turned smartly before he tucked the ball into the net.

There was little to report after the goal until the 43rd minute when the visitors were awarded a penalty which Watkins smashed into the bottom left corner.

The teams went in level at the break and Sadler rang the changes at half time, replacing Johnson, Freddie Draper and Oisin McEntee with Jamille Matt, Douglas James-Taylor and Joe Riley.

James-Taylor’s afternoon was short lived as he was forced off with an injury just eight minutes later and replaced by a trialist.

The Saddlers had a chance on the hour mark after some good work by Tom Knowles won a corner which he delivered towards Matt but the striker couldn’t quite get a clean connection on it and the ball went wide.

There were further alterations on 64 minutes as Joe Foulkes, Ronan Maher, Taylor Allen, two trialists and Owen were all introduced.

The closing stages saw few chances. Ryan Stirk had a shot blocked before Tommi O’Reilly blazed over for the away side.

Maher did well in the box to win the ball and create space for a shot but he dragged his effort wide of the mark and the game ended as a draw.

Attendance: 9328 (3975 away)

Evans; McEntee (Riley 45’), Daniels (Foulkes 64’), Farquharson (Trialist B), Hussey (Trialist D), Gordon (Allen 64’); Stirk (Onabirekhanlen 81’), Hutchinson (Maher 64’), Knowles (Owen 64’), Draper (James-Taylor 45’ – Trialist C 53’), Johnson (Matt 45’)
Subs: Trialist A

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