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Pre-season: Walsall 0-3 Coventry - Report

Walsall were undone by clinical finishing as they fell to a 3-0 friendly defeat against Championship club Coventry City at Bescot.

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Michael Flynn's Saddlers showed some encouraging signs against Mark Robins' charges but lacked ruthlessness, while the Sky Blues certainly had their shooting boots on.

The visitors went ahead shortly into the second half as Kasey Palmer picked out the bottom corner.

Josh Eccles then got on the scoresheet with a long-range effort before Fabio Tavares made sure of the victory in convincing style late on.

Trialist Timmy Abraham was given the full 90 minutes as Walsall continue to have a long look at the former Fulham man, and he had a fair amount of joy.

Walsall v Coventry (Owen Russell)

Ronan Maher again went close to a first senior goal for the Saddlers on a night where Coventry made the most of their opportunities.

Walsall, with their search for new strikers still ongoing, gave another opportunity to Abraham.

The younger brother of England and Roma star Tammy was in the Saddlers' starting line-up while fellow trialist Jonas Mukuna made the bench.

Aneurin Livermore and Cameron Green – who had featured in all of the previous friendlies – were not present at Bescot.

Coventry, meanwhile, fielded a second-string line-up but still had established players such as Martyn Waghorn and Palmer in the XI.

Abraham was interestingly deployed as a right-winger rather than a centre-forward, and that move almost paid off early doors.

He used his striking pace to fly down the flank before sending a brilliant low ball across the face of goal.

Unfortunately, Douglas James-Taylor – the one playing through the middle – was caught on his heels and the opportunity went begging.

Abraham looked lively out wide and was keen to run at the Sky Blues' backline at every opportunity.

The pace of the game in general, though, was fairly slow.

Walsall v Coventry (Owen Russell)

The intense heat did not help matters and measures were in place to ensure everyone on and off the pitch stayed hydrated, with the players having a drinks break midway through the first half while stewards regularly handed out free bottles of water to supporters.

Coventry's main threat was Waghorn. He looked set to score from close range but was denied by Hayden White's perfectly-timed block.

Waghorn thought he had opened the scoring as he poked the ball beyond Adam Przybek minutes later as well, only to be flagged offside.

As the first half progressed, Walsall began to threaten more.

Maher – who appears set for a first-team role after turning heads this summer – got a shot off, although it was an easy save for Simon Moore.

James-Taylor had the chance to release either Flynn Clarke or Abraham but overcooked the pass to the former.

A peach of a cross from Taylor Allen was then sent towards James-Taylor, who was again a split second too slow to react.

None of those were clear-cut opportunities but with a bit more sharpness, the Saddlers could have easily gone into the break ahead.

The Sky Blues almost went in front before the interval, too, as Eccles' side-footed strike from distance kissed the outside of the post.

Walsall started the second period in lively fashion as clever interplay between Abraham and James-Taylor almost resulted in an opening goal.

Abraham, now on the left, played a cut-back to the feet of James-Taylor, whose first-time attempt was blocked.

Instead it was Coventry who broke the deadlock, straight up the other end.

Jack Burroughs surged down the left and found Palmer. He took a touch inside the box and swiftly slotted the ball into the bottom corner.

Walsall v Coventry (Owen Russell)

The Saddlers continued to have their moments and were desperately unlucky not to equalise as Maher took aim from a free-kick. His sublime left-footed strike left Moore stranded as it cannoned off the woodwork and away from danger.

Rubbing salt into the wounds, the Sky Blues soon doubled their advantage.

Eccles tried his luck from range and keeper Przybek – perhaps seeing it late as the ball fizzed through a crowded box – was beaten.

Walsall rang the changes as they aimed to stay fresh and avoid injuries.

There was concern, however, as White signalled to the bench he could not continue and was replaced by Mukuna.

The difference in class between the sides became more apparent in the closing stages and Coventry added a third before it was all said and done.

Substitute Tavares capitalised on sloppy defending as he curled the ball home.

Walsall v Coventry (Owen Russell)

The Saddlers will finish their pre-season schedule at National League outfit Solihull Moors on Saturday before the real thing begins against Hartlepool United the following weekend.


Walsall (4-2-3-1): Przybek; Bennett, White (Mukuna, 72), Daniels (c) (Monthe, 62), Allen; Kinsella, Comley (P Clarke, 70); Abraham, F Clarke (Hutchinson, 62), Maher; James-Taylor (Williams, 62)

Not used: Evans (gk)

Coventry (3-4-1-2): Moore; Doyle, McFadzean (c), Rose (Hyam, 46); Burroughs, Eccles, Sheaf (Reid, 82), Kane (Howley, 62); Palmer (Bapaga, 79); Waghorn (Tavares, 62), Walker

Not used: Wilson (gk), Dinanga, Rus, Finnegan, McGrath

Goals: Palmer (51), Eccles (65), Tavares (78)

Attendance: 2,546 (875 Coventry fans)