Walsall 2-1 Shrewsbury Town
- Town took a third-minute lead through Josh Ginnelly
- Tevin Shakespeare gets two inside 16 opening minutes
- Shrews rally late on but great goalkeeping denies them
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: 322 ATTENDANCE
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Andrew Ellis
ASSISTANTS: Joe Clarke and Liam Corbett
: Tom Reeves REFEREE
BOOKED: Lewis Probert (90+2)
GOALS: Shakespeare (7, 16)
SUBS NOT USED: Bradley Caswell (GK), Raekwan Smith, Rory Oliver.
: Dan Jezeph (GK), Jamie Smith, Callum Cockerill-Mollett (Nathan Owen, 77), Jordan Sangha, Kyle Rowley (c), Lewis Probert, Maziar Kouhyar, Luke Delaney, Tevin Shakespeare, Brendan Pooni (Romario Reid, 85), Rico Henry. WALSALL LINE-UP
BOOKED: McAtee (85)
GOALS: Ginnelly (3)
SUBS NOT USED: Harry Lewis (GK), Joel Carta.
: Shaun Rowley (GK), Jack Alexander (Joe Kenton, 77), Ben Burton, Alex Fletcher, Callum Grogan, Niall Flint (George Hughes, 68) Ryan Hickman (c), Ethan Jones, Kaiman Anderson, Josh Ginnelly, Tom King (John McAtee, 81). SHREWSBURY TOWN LINE-UP
FULL-TIME: Walsall 2-1 Shrewsbury Town
With the last kick of the game, Anderson was fouled by Probert but sadly for Shrewsbury, the resulting free-kick by Ginnelly connected with the wall rather than the back of the net and with that, the game was brought to a close and Town’s brave effort failed to result in victory.
The game had ticked into stoppage time when Walsall seemed certain to get their third goal, only for Hickman to somehow divert Nathan Owen’s goal bound effort wide of the post, with the goal at his mercy.
From the resulting corner, Anderson connected just 7-yards out but failed to generate the power needed in his header to beat the in-form Saddlers stopper.
With just three minutes remaining Town had their best chance of the half to equalise. Alex Fletcher’s raking pass released Josh Ginnelly who beat two men before seeing his effort deflect onto the foot of the post before Fletcher was denied the rebound by another superb Jezeph stop.
Walsall were still posing a major threat going forward as the game entered the final five minutes, with Kouhyar’s deep cross finding its way to Delaney who failed to keep his shot down.
Town continued to press to try and find an equaliser, with John McAtee replacing Tom King Dawes’s last throw of the dice.
Ian Dawes made his second change of the evening with 77-minutes on the clock and it was an attacking one, with winger Joe Kenton replacing defender Jack Alexander.
Ginnelly was looking dangerous and he almost found a way through the stubborn Walsall defence only to be denied by a last-ditch tackle.
With just twenty minutes remaining of the youth team’s season, Town came close to drawing level when Anderson again created himself some room before unleashing another thunderous drive that Jezeph somehow tipped over the bar.
Town made their first change of the night with midfielder Niall Flint making way for George Hughes.
The Town stopper, who had recently signed his first professional contract with the football club, was in action moments later when Jamie Smith’s excellent free-kick found an unmarked Probert who saw his bullet header superbly tipped over.
Ten minutes after the re-start Walsall almost put themselves in a very commanding position when Callum Cockerill-Mollett’s cross picked out Kouhyar whose downward header was brilliantly tipped around the post by Rowley.
Both sides kept the same team for the start of the second half and it was the familiar thorn in Shrewsbury’s side, Rico Henry, who carved out the first opportunity when he connected well with a 20-yard volley that was straight at Rowley.
HALF-TIME: Walsall 2-1 Shrewsbury Town
Moments before half-time Rowley once again had to be on alert as the impressive Luke Delaney drove forward and without any opposition, before driving the ball into the grateful arms of the Town stopper.
With that corner came another chance with Ryan Hickman getting in the middle of a packed 18-yard-box to fire an effort just wide of the post.
The Shrews had already taken the corner count past five when Callum Grogan made his way to the back post to nod back into the path of Ginnelly whose powerful effort was deflected wide for another corner.
Following a disjointed opening half-hour, Town were starting to look the dominate team, with both Anderson and Ginnelly appealing for penalties that were waved away from referee Tom Reeves.
At the other end, Town’s number one had to be alert to prevent Shakespeare grabbing a first-half hat-trick as he palmed away another effort form the front-man.
Anderson almost found a leveller out of nothing when he let fly with a thunderous left-footed drive that Jezeph somehow tipped over the crossbar.
Town responded well to the set-back of seeing their lead slip so quickly and started to press further up the pitch.
Eventually the pressure paid off for the Saddlers as Shakespeare grabbed his second of the game. A raking Lewis Probert free-kick found the striker in too much space just inside the penalty area and, after a clever drop of the shoulder, drilled in at the near post leaving Rowley no chance.
Once again, he was involved with the next chance of the game as his mazy run through the middle ended with a rasping drive that Rowley did well to beat away.
The Shropshire side were coming under real pressure, with Henry looking dangerous with every forward run.
Moments after their leveller, Brendan Pooni worked himself some room before teeing up Maziar Kouhyar who dragged his shot narrowly wide.
The goal seemed to do wonders for the home side’s confidence as they started to put Dawes’ side under real pressure.
No sooner had Town grabbed the lead, they were pegged back as the home side responded in the best way possible. First-team pro Rico Henry latched onto a loose pass before placing his effort low down to Rowley’s right hand side. Despite getting a good hand on the ball, the rebound fell kindly to Tevin Shakespeare who slotted home the equaliser.
Town didn’t have to wait long for their next chance and this time they took it. Kaiman Anderson won the ball in the middle of the park before delivering a perfectly weighted pass for Ginnelly, who tucked the ball under the onrushing keeper.
Within a minute, they were almost handed the perfect start as Ginnelly’s corner was misjudged by Walsall stopper Dan Jezeph and Jack Alexander guided his shot goalwards, only for Walsall skipper Kyle Rowley to make a last ditch clearance.
Town made the brighter start of the two sides, eager perhaps to make amends for the two league defeats handed to them by their M54 neighbours.
Walsall, who beat Grimsby and Lincoln on their way to the final, had to cope without top-scorer Levi Rowley, whose knee injury against Wrexham two-weeks earlier put paid to his season.
Town had beaten Chasetown Scholars 13-0 at Greenhous Meadow on their way to the final as well as defeating Chesterfield 4-3 on penalties after a 2-2 draw at Sundorne Sports Village.
The trio of Academy players who will be plying their trade with the first-team as of next season all returned to the starting line-up. Shaun Rowley replaced Harry Lewis in goal; with Kaiman Anderson and Josh Ginnelly coming in for Joe Kenton and a trialist respectively.
Head of Academy coach Ian Dawes named a completely different side to the one that lost narrowly to Walsall just six-days ago in their final league match of the season.
Despite taking an early lead through Josh Ginnelly, Tevin Shakespeare grabbed a first-half brace to seal the Saddlers’ victory in the Midland Floodlit Youth Cup Final.