Match Reports

Match report: Narrow defeat for under-21s in EFL Trophy

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A Saddlers goal just before the break was all that separated the teams.

By Paul Camillin • 14 September 2021

By Paul Hazlewood
Albion are still to face Forest Green Rovers and Northampton Town in the competition.

An Albion under-21 side went down 1-0 to Walsall in their opening game of the Papa John's Trophy at the Banks's Stadium.

It was a tough night for Andrew Crofts' side who ended up playing a third of the game with ten men, after Gary Dicker was sent off after 60 minutes.

Albion started the game well, and Evan Ferguson went close twice inside the opening ten minutes. The powerful centre forward first fired narrowly wide from a tight angle, before drawing a smart save from Jack Rose.

By Paul Hazlewood
Jeremy Sarmiento looked to open the scoring, but saw two efforts fly wide.

Jeremy Sarmiento, a summer arrival from Benfica, flashed a shot across the face of goal and then drove another effort just wide of the post.

Albion's youngsters looked comfortable against their more-experienced hosts, but as the half continued Walsall grew into the game.

Tom McGill made an excellent save to keep the scores level, diving to his left to push away Joss Labadie's powerful drive around the half-hour mark.

By Paul Hazlewood
Keiran Phillips put the hosts ahead with a close range finish.

The home side went ahead just before the break from Emmanuel Osabade's corner kick; Albion were unable to clear, and after a spell of penalty box pinball, Kieran Phillips swept home from close range.

A tough task got tougher, as Dicker saw red on the hour, after a challenge on Osadebe.

The challenge seemed to result from the Albion midfielder losing his footing than any malice, but nonetheless provoked an angry reaction from Walsall’s players, and after the ensuing melee, referee Bobby Madley brandished the red card.

By Paul Hazlewood
Gary Dicker's red card saw Albion play the final 30 minutes with ten men.

Credit to Albion’s youngsters, they kept the game alive, and Andy Moran, on in place of Sarmiento, was quickly involved in the action, curling an effort just wide of the target, after some nice hold-up play from Ferguson.

Crofts will take the positives from the game, with ties at Forest Green Rovers and Northampton Town to come, but first attention will switch to Saturday’s trip to Manchester United in the Premier League 2. 

Albion: McGill, Roberts, Furlong, Turns, Packham (Offiah 84), Spong, Leonard, Dicker, Ferguson, Sarmiento (Moran 68), Peupion (Tolaj 80).

Unused subs: Desbois, Nilsson, Hinchy, Miller.