A FULL strength Walsall team demolished Solihull Moors 5-0 on Saturday but it was deliberate test by manager Marcus Bignot to see how his side would fair against a superior opposition and more importantly how they would learn from the experience, reports John Clothier.
The Saddler had many new faces in their ranks as they prepare for life in the Championship and they had a point to prove, scoring four first half goals to put the pre-season friendly out of Moors’ reach by the mid-way point.
It was evident from the first whistle that Walsall had a firing line that would punish any hesitation from their hosts and after three minutes they were ahead when Florent Cuvelier put Erhun Otzhumer through and he passed to Nathan Vaughan who stroked the ball home from six yards out.
On nine minutes Gavin Cowan played a pass back right into the advancing Amadou Bakayoko and after Vaughan clattered the striker as he rushed off his line, the referee had no alternative but to award a penalty. The Walsall striker dusted himself down and coolly sent Vaughan the wrong way as the visitors doubled their lead.
Moors managed a foray into the Walsall half when Harry White sped pass three defenders but could not get a shot in as they come up against a dominant Walsall midfield and resolute back line.
Moors’ best chance came in the 22nd minute when one of the trialists put a quality cross into the box but although Etheridge dropped the ball there was nobody to stab it home.
At the mid way point of the half Walsall extended their advantage when an inch perfect pass from Bakayoko provided Otzhumer with a close range side-footed shot which went beyond Vaughan.
A speculative chip from Ryan Beswick from 35 yards again found the keeper well placed to avert the danger before eight minutes from time Otzhumer put through a defence splitting pass to the advancing Cuvelier who fired home to the near side corner of the net.
Bignot fielded 11 new players for the second half, with Walsall themselves making nine changes but the Moors back line of Theo Streete, Liam Daly and Connor Franklin brought stability to the home side, but they were unable to convert their chances in the final third.
Jack Byrne’s effort on four minutes was deflected for a corner while at the other end Shorrock blasted wide for the Saddlers and Danny Lewis saved well from Morris.
Akwasi Asante had perhaps Moors’ best chance on the hour mark when he set up a shot from the edge of the box but it lacked power and direction.
Andy Brown got on the end of a decent cross from a trialist but his powerful header was wide and with 15 minutes remaining the away goalkeeper fluffed a Darryl Knights free kick but again there was nobody there to take advantage.
After a second half when Solihull had stemmed the first half onslaught, they were caught on the break in the 83rd minute when Sangha’s shot was handballed in the area and again Bakayoko sent Lewis the wrong way for the fifth and final goal of the match.
Team (first half) – Vaughan, Trialist, Morris, Cowan ©, Trialist, Kelly, Moore, Trialist, White, Beswick, Osborne
(Second half) – Lewis, Trialist, Daly, Streete ©, Trialist, Asante, Byrne, Brown, Trialist, Franklin, Knights