U23 Report: Saints 2-0 Villa

By SFC Media Fri 03 May Saints v Aston Villa
Photo by James Bridle
Fri 03 May 7PM
Premier League 2 - Division 2
Southampton
2
Aston Villa
0
Smallbone [7'] O'Connor [71']
Slattery (40')
Clarke (42') Brunt (63')
Referee: Richard Hulme | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 623

Southampton Under-23s booked their place in the Premier League 2 Play-Off final after a 2-0 victory over their Aston Villa counterparts at St Mary’s.

Will Smallbone’s early spot kick was added to by a stunning Tom O’Connor free-kick in the second-half, with Radhi Jaïdi’s side now due to host Newcastle United next week for a place in Division One.

The hosts headed into the contest after signing off the regular season with a resounding 5-1 success against Sunderland on Monday, while Villa drew 0-0 with West Bromwich Albion knowing they were already guaranteed fifth place.

Drawing upon that momentum, Saints were ahead inside ten minutes from the penalty spot, when Aaron O’Driscoll’s raking pass over the top was taken away from goalkeeper Viljami Sinisalo by Tyreke Johnson, who was then upended.

That presented the opportunity for Smallbone to net his second goal in as many games and he duly obliged with a coolly-taken low strike into the bottom corner.

Will Smallbone makes no mistake from the spot. Photo: James Bridle

In a first-half of few clear-cut opportunities, O’Connor was next to test Villa’s defensive resolve after Johnson was brought down on the edge of the area, but his left-footed free-kick went inches over.

The momentum was firmly with the hosts. O’Connor was involved again when he combined with Jake Vokins, before stinging the palms of Sinisalo with a powerful left-footed effort.

Just after the half-hour mark, Klarer was next to go close. Smallbone’s in swinging corner was inviting for the Austrian, but he couldn’t direct his header on target.

Villa struggled to establish themselves in an attacking sense, and the second-half began in a similar vein. The advancing Vokins sending an effort flashing across the face of goal after receiving a pass from O’Connor.

N’Lundulu’s powerful run from deep then caused problems, but his effort was blocked behind well by Isaiah Bazeley-Graham on the cover.

At the other end, Jack Rose was called into action for the first time shortly before the hour mark, punching away a free-kick from Indiana Vassilev that set Saints on an incisive counter-attack.

N’Lundulu held the ball up well before finding Smallbone and setting up a two-on-one situation, but after his driving run at Jake Walker and pass to the right, O’Connor couldn’t find the finish.

On 64, Smallbone’s influence on the game almost saw him double his personal tally when he stepped up to force Sinisalo into a smart save with a low free-kick.

But their dominance was soon to pay dividends and their grip on the tie tightened when O’Connor stepped up to curl an unstoppable left-footed free-kick from distance.

Villa made a double switch late on to try and find a way back into the contest. Easah Suliman’s effort after the breakdown of a corner went just wide, before Saints stood tall against increasingly direct play to book their place in the final.

Southampton

Head to Head Stats

Aston Villa
  • Possession (%)
    43
    57
  • Shots
    15
    7
  • Shots on target
    7
    1
  • Corners
    6
    4
  • Passes Complete
    206
    290

Southampton PL2

1
Jack Rose (GK)
5
Aaron O'Driscoll
6
Christoph Klarer
4
Alfie Jones
7
Callum Slattery
Harry Hamblin (75′)
2
Oludare Olufunwa
8
Thomas O'Connor (C)
3
Jake Vokins
11
Tyreke Johnson
Will Ferry (89′)
9
Daniel N'Lundulu
Marcus Barnes (81′)
10
William Smallbone
16
Marcus Barnes
12
Kameron Ledwidge
13
Alex Cull
14
Harry Hamblin
15
Will Ferry

Aston Villa PL2

1
Viljami Sinisalo (GK)
2
Isaiah Bazeley-Graham
Ben Guy (81′)
5
Dominic Revan
3
Jake Walker
4
Easah Suliman
10
Jacob Ramsey
8
Lewis Brunt
6
Jack Clarke (C)
Brad Burton (82′)
9
Cameron Archer
11
Jaden Philogene-Bidace
Aaron Pressley (66′)
7
Indiana Vassilev
14
Ben Guy
13
Sam Lomax
15
Aaron Pressley
12
Mungo Bridge
16
Brad Burton
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