11 November 2020 10:50
DERICK Osei came off the bench to continue his run of scoring in the Papa John's Trophy to send Oxford United through as group winners. The shot beat Saddlers goalkeeper Jack Rose, who had been the busier of the two goalkeepers and made one excellent save to thwart Sam Winnall before the break. United handed new signing Jordan Obita a debut, Winnall came in for his first start, while the bench included three youngsters making the squad for the first time in Eddie Brearey, Josh Anifowose and Leon Chambers-Parillon. That was cleared out to Liam Kelly, whose thumping low shot was well saved by Saddlers goalkeeper Jack Rose. The winger was typically industrious and in the tenth minute set up a shooting chance for Winnall which forced Rose into another smart save.
Jake Scrimshaw, scorer of three hat-tricks against the U's at youth level two seasons ago, was a pest for the home side and fired one half-chance wide. It was a rare sight of Jack Stevens' goal before the break, as young pair Nico Jones and Michael Elechi helped limit Walsall's chances. The hosts' big opportunity of the half came from a corner on 32 minutes, when Caolan Lavery's header came back off the crossbar. United broke and Cooper cut in off the right flank to force Rose into action. The Walsall goalkeeper was busy again before half-time, making an outstanding save to deny Winnall a first U's goal after he made a good connection on Sam Long's low cross.
A number of those also did not make the squad as Clarke rested key players - including Roberts, with Jack Rose the only goalkeeper named. Jordan Obita made his first Oxford appearance after joining the club on Monday, while Sam Winnall and Michael Elechi made their first starts. Neither side was able to create a clear-cut chance in the opening 15 minutes, as they relied on set pieces to force a breakthrough. As the clock ticked beyond the 30-minute mark, the Saddlers dominated the ball but failed to do anything with it, while Oxford were happy to sit in and counter-attack. The game almost sprung into life minutes later when Caolan Lavery had a free header from less than five yards after meeting a Nolan corner. From that missed opportunity, Oxford countered and Joel Cooper forced a save from Rose with an effort from long-range. With half-time approaching it was Oxford's turn to threaten a goal, when Winnall slid in to meet Sam Long's cross at the near post. At the start of the second half, former Saddlers loanee Daniel Agyei was introduced for Obita. Walsall also moved to a 4-2-3-1 formation with Jake Scrimshaw out on the left and Emmanuel Osadebe behind Lavery. The game continued much in the same vein as the first half, with the hosts seeing plenty of the ball but failing to break down a United defence determined to sit in. Callum Cockerill-Mollett, who was making his first start since returning from injury, came close when he met a free-kick at the back post but his shot deflected just wide. Holden and Danny Guthrie were both introduced after 69 minutes - the latter making his return from injury - as Walsall attempted to take control of the game and make a breakthrough. Walsall fought back but failed to score and with time against them they were knocked out of the EFL Trophy knowing that either Bristol Rovers or Chelsea Under-21's, who play next week, will progress from the group with Oxford. Walsall: Rose, White, Scarr, Sadler, Cockerill-Mollett, Nolan (Holden, 69), Sinclair (Guthrie, 69), Bates, Osadebe (McDonald, 81), Lavery, Scrimshaw. Oxford United: Stevens, Long, Mousinho, Jones, Elechi, Kelly, Henry, Cooper (Chambers-Parillon, 81), Hall, Obita (Agyei, 45), Winnall (Osei, 69) Walsall bowed out of the Papa John's Trophy as they fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat to League One side Oxford United at the Banks's Stadium. U's substitute Derick Osei-Yaw scored a beauty with three minutes of normal time to go to seal the victory for the visitors. Jack Rose, Alfie Bates, Callum Cockerill-Mollett, Jack Nolan, Emmanuel Osadebe, Hayden White and Jake Scrimshaw all came into the side in place of Liam Roberts, Liam Kinsella, Zak Jules, Rory Holden, Wes McDonald, Elijah Adebayo and Cameron Norman. Oxford had the first real chance of the game after 10 minutes when Sam Winnall's powerful strike was parried away by Rose. Walsall's first opportunity on goal came after 20 minutes when White fed Scrimshaw who found space on the right in the penalty area and unleashed a shot that took a deflection as it went wide. The first half saw little goalmouth action but it was the Saddlers who came the closest in the opening 45 minutes when Nolan's corner found Caolan Lavery whose header struck the woodwork on 32 minutes. Oxford's best chance of the half came six minutes before half time when Sam Long fizzed a wicked low ball that found Winnall in the six-yard box who tried to hook it into the net but Rose did brilliantly to get down and stop it and it ended goalless at the break. The second half started slowly but the lads grew as the half wore on and had the first opportunity of the second period on 61 minutes when Nolan floated in a free-kick that found Cockerill-Mollett at the back post but he couldn't find the target with his first-time strike. Clarke made a double substitution on 69 minutes as he introduced the returning Danny Guthrie and Rory Holden in place of Sinclair and Nolan. Lavery had a decent opportunity when he skipped towards the area and let fly with a shot but he missed the target on 80 minutes. Clarke made his final change as McDonald came on in place of Osadebe as he looked to push for a winner. Despite pressure from Walsall, it was the visitors who broke the deadlock as substitute Osei-Yaw curled in a beauty from outside the box on 87 minutes. McDonald had a chance late on as he curled a shot over but the Saddlers couldn't find an equaliser to force a penalty shootout and they bowed out of the Papa John's Trophy. Rose; White, Scarr, Sadler, Cockerill-Mollett; Nolan (Holden), Sinclair (Guthrie), Bates, Osadebe (McDonald); Lavery, Scrimshaw