B Team Report: Birmingham 3-2 Saints


Despite taking an early 2-0 lead Southampton's B team suffered defeat at Birmingham City in Premier League 2 on Monday afternoon.

Dave Horseman’s side got off to the perfect start, Dom Ballard capping his second successive start with a top-corner finish after just three minutes.

It was two just nine minutes later as Caleb Watts found that same top corner with a superb strike.

But Birmingham found an avenue back into the game just after the twenty-minute mark; Kyle Hurst and then George Hall scoring two goals in as many minutes to level the game.

The hosts then took the lead for themselves, Hurst with his second of the game on 37 minutes.

Saints made two changes to the side that lost to Burnley last Thursday, Ollie Wright being replaced by Jack Bycroft in goal and Dynel Simeu returning to the side in place of Ramello Mitchell.

With the two sides separated by just two points at the foot of the table it was a chance for visiting B to make a stamp on proceedings.

This stamp came after just three minutes, youngster Ballard fed through the middle of the park, before cutting onto his left foot and curling a shot into the top corner.

The pressure didn’t stop from Saints in the opening stages, Birmingham struggling to get out of their own half.

Soon the lead was doubled, this time Watts finding that same top corner with an equally accurate strike.

The hosts avenue into the game looked unlikely, however on 21 minutes they grabbed a goal back against the run of play.

Hurst burst into the box from the left flank, before finding a gap at the near post just under Bycroft to hand Birmingham a lifeline.

Just a minute later the scores were level as Hall was played on side and found the far corner one-on-one.

The next chance following the game came for Saints, who were looking to regain the lead. Kazeem Olaigbe denied by the wall from a promising free-kick position.

The game lost its spark after a quick-fire start when the rain cloud opened up above Wast Hills training ground, both sides looking to get the ball on the ground amidst the high winds.

But it would be Birmingham who would be the next side to profit; Hurst finishing with his second bite of the cherry after a strong Bycroft save to give the hosts their first lead of the afternoon.

Saints had lost their early zip and flare going forward, somewhat understandably after the quick Birmingham turn around.

As the half-time whistle blew all knew they needed to return to those early performance levels if they were to get anything from the game.

Out of the two sides it was Saints who enjoyed the better of the early second half chances; goal scorers Ballard and Watts both having individual chances to level the scores.

Hall was the first of Birmingham’s attacking line to test Bycroft following the break, cutting inside and forcing the Saints keeper to claim well low down to his left-hand side.

Olaigbe was next on the scene as Saints searched for an equaliser, drilling his shot wide of the left post from just outside the area.

The visitor’s pressing game continued to cause Birmingham problems like it did in the first half; Watts winning possession in a dangerous position just shy of the hour mark but slipping at the vital moment before he could get a shot away.

Then came a huge chance for the hosts, Hall again the one at the centre of things looking to test Bycroft one-on-one by the Saints keeper was more than equal to the strike.

As the rain subsided and the sun started to shine Horseman made a trip switch; Mitchell, Jayden Smith and Ethan Burnett introduced for the visitors.

With the game entering the final twenty minutes it was all Saints in terms of possession and chances.

Watts and substitute Smith linked well in the final third, the latter just unable to find an opening for a shot after being crowded out.

Next was an opportunity for the former, who failed to find the target from a tight angle after being played through by full back Joshua Lett.

The hosts stood firm as Saints continued to try and break down their stubborn backline for the remainder of the half.

Saints captain Kegs Chauke worked hard in the heart of midfield as he searched for that key pass but was frustrated by the home side for the most part.

A huge chance fell to Mitchell inside the box in the fourth minute of stoppage time; Payne swinging a ball in and the forward turning before firing on the half volley with a strike which skimmed the crossbar.

That would be the last chance of the game for Saints, who will look to Friday's visit of Stoke City to Staplewood Campus in Premier League 2 as a chance to bounce back.