The BIG HELP Stadium

Friday 15th December 2023 -  19:00
- Days
- Hrs
- Mins
- Secs
Key Events

A photo of Albion U21s midfielder Fenton Heard on the ball, in the blue 2023/24 training wear, at the club's Walsall training ground pitches

Fenton Heard says he’s looking forward to testing himself against one of “the best” academies in the country when Albion’s PL2 team travel to Everton on Friday night (ko 7pm).

Richard Beale’s men were defeated in their last match in the Premier League Cup, losing 5-2 to Sheffield United. But one player who impressed and provided both of the young Baggies’ goals on the night was Heard.

The attacker, who resides just a stone’s throw from the club’s training base in Great Barr, has been keen to boost his numbers in the final third this season and took an important step in the right direction with his brace against the Blades.

Now, the 19-year-old is relishing the test of finding the net again when Albion’s U21s travel to non-league Southport’s 'BIG HELP Stadium' on Friday evening, as Heard and his team-mates look to end 2023 with a good result against a challenging Toffees side.

“I thought I took my two goals well the other night,” said Fenton.

“It’s frustrating we didn’t go on and win the game but going into Everton on Friday, we’ve got to cut the mistakes out of our game and now we’ve shown there’s quality at the top end of the pitch, we also need to go and test opponents and start beating teams in this league.

“The main target this year is to just keep getting my numbers up. We spoke before and I’m trying to get into double figures as quickly as I can this season, just like I did last year.

“That’s my job as an attacker to get goals, assists and excite people and I was pleased to get two goals on Monday.

“My first thought going into games now is to score, or to get an assist or be dangerous and when you have that positive, forward-thinking mentality, you can become unstoppable at times and that’s the routine I want to get into.

“If I just keep doing me, performing well, hopefully I can get in and around the senior team like Akeel (Higgins) has recently.

“Before my game was based on linking the defence and attack, but now I’m doing both that and getting on the end of moves too.

“You look at the top players, they do all of those things at the highest level and that’s what I’ve got to keep striving for.

“It’s a tough league this year but these are the types of games you want to play in, to really test yourself against the best players and that’s the only way you can see where your game’s at.

“You can prove yourself playing against the best in the country and if we can go and do well at Everton, then that’d definitely help our confidence heading into the new year.”

A photo of Fenton Heard

Albion’s PL2 team ended 2023 with a thoroughly deserved win over Everton on Friday night.

Fenton Heard’s brace, along with Cole Deeming’s deflected strike, were enough to cancel out Martin Sherif’s opener for the hosts as Richard Beale’s men sealed only their second league win this term.

The Baggies' youngsters started proceedings well, but fell behind against the run of play when Sherif prodded into the net from just shy of six yards after Ronnie Hollingshead failed to hold a delivery from the right flank.

Still, justice prevailed and the visitors restored parity almost instantly - Heard curling in from inside the box following a favourable lay-off by Layton Love.

Albion’s young pros were in the mood following their leveller and they soon turned things right around when young central midfielder Deeming, on his first start for the PL2 team, saw a free-kick from the edge of the box deflect past the wrong-footed Toffees keeper to make it 2-1.

Beale’s boys continued their good showing into the second 45, as Love scuffed a good opportunity wide thanks to good perseverance by Ollie Bostock down the flank.

And the first-year scholar would be vital again as he orchestrated the opening for the young Baggies’ third and final goal of the night - carrying possession from inside his own half before releasing to Akeel Higgins to shoot.

The spritely attacker’s effort from 12 yards out was saved by the Toffees shot-stopper but only to the grateful feet of Heard, who was waiting to poke in from under the goal line for his second brace in successive matches which, ultimately, secured a big three points in the U21s’ final match of the year.

Albion: Hollingshead; Hall, Taylor ©️ (Richards 46), Harper-Bailey, Shaw (Nelson 46); Deeming, Whitwell (Mfuamba 61), Heard (Williams 78); Higgins, Malcolm (Bostock 46), Love.