Solihull Moors 3 Walsall 2 - Report and pictures
Walsall’s first open friendly of pre-season ended in disappointment after they fell to a 3-2 loss at Solihull Moors.
An experimental Saddlers XI enjoyed a 1-0 lead at the interval thanks to a well-taken Maz Kouyhar goal.
But two strikes from Jermaine Hylton after the interval put Moors ahead with Joel Kettle grabbing a late winner after Joe Edwards had pulled Walsall level.
Jon Whitney used the friendly as an opportunity to give 22 players in his squad a much needed run-out with the boss choosing to play a different side in each half.
Opting for a mixture of experience and youth each time, the opening 45 minutes saw debuts handed to Luke Leahy and Jon Guthrie.
There was also a start for out-of-contract Matt Preston whose previous deal with the Saddlers expired at the end of June.
In first half controlled by Whitney’s men, it took the Saddlers just three minutes to opening the scoring.
A swift counter saw Tobias Hayles-Docherty pick out Florent Cuvelier who in turn sent Kouyhar away down the left.
And the youngster finished the move in style with an emphatic finish into the bottom right corner after cutting inside a Moors defender.
The Saddlers looked comfortable and twice came close to extending their advantage.
First Simeon Jackson forced Nathan Vaughan into a good one-handed stop from just inside the area. Hayles-Docherty then fizzed a strike wide.
But in truth the game very much had a pre-season feel with one or two touches going astray and players reluctant to truly exert themselves.
Moors showed a threat towards the end of the half with Jack Edwards rising highest from corner but heading straight at Liam Roberts.
But it was the Saddlers who had been in control with Cuvelier and Kouyhar arguably the stand out performers.
The second half saw a first appearance in Walsall colours for Mark Gillespie and Nicky Devlin.
Youngsters Dann Vann, Callum-Cokerill-Mollett and Cameron Peters were also given a chance to impress.
Sticking with a 4-4-2 formation, Joe Edwards started on the left of midfield with Kieron Morris on the right.
Walsall started the second period brightly with Edwards hitting a fierce strike narrowly over after latching onto Amadou Bakayoko’s knockdown.
Jordan Sangha then curled inches wide following a fine low cross from Devlin.
The hosts though hit back and pulled level out of nowhere when Jack Edwards' glancing header hit the bar and Jermaine Hylton nodded in the rebound.
Seven minutes later, Liam McDonald’s side were ahead.
Sangha’s under hit back-pass allowed Hylton to nip in. And the former Swindon striker danced his way past Gillespie before firing in for his second of the game.
The game was now much more even than the Saddlers would have liked with Bakayoko and Peters seeing little of the ball up top.
But they pulled level with 10 minutes left to play when Edwards emphatically fired home from 18-yards after connecting with a cushioned Peters cutback.
Within minutes though, Moors grabbed the goal that would win the tie when Thomas got the last touch on a low free-kick.
Walsall first-half: Roberts, Kinsella, Preston, Guthrie, Leahy, Hayles-Docherty, Cuvelier, Chambers, Kouyhar, Oztumer, Jackson.
Walsall second-half: Gillespie, Devlin, Roberts, Vann, Cockerill-Mollett, Morris, Edwards, Flanagan, Sangha, Bakayoko, Peters.
Solihull: Vaughan (Hill 75), Trialist (Shade 57), Thomas, Maye, Green, Kettle, Trialist (Tonks 57), Carter, Afolayan (Willock 71), Hylton (Trialist 68), Carline (Edwards 37).