B Team Report: Morgan brace sparks PL Cup comeback


Southampton's B team got off to the perfect start in the Premier League Cup against Everton, thanks to a second half brace from Jimmy-Jay Morgan.

Despite dominating large spells of the first half, the hosts took the lead against the run of play through Isaac Price.

Saints responded in the second half as Morgan fired in an emphatic equaliser and a well-hit winner in the space of 10 minutes.

Everton were reduced to nine men in the closing stages, as Saints took all three points to start their cup campaign.

At Walton Hall Park, Ryan Finnigan, Lewis Payne, and Dom Ballard all returned to the starting line-up, whilst Josh Lett earned a call-up from the Under-18s to start.

Dave Horseman had set his side up to press with intensity against their Premier League Two Division One opponents, and they did just that right from the get go.

Kamari Doyle stung the palms of Billy Crellin with a shot from the edge of the area inside the first five minutes, setting the tone for a lively opening to the game.

Sam Bellis was next to go close minutes later; the forward was slipped through by Doyle but Crellin did well to shut down the angle.

Saints’ third clear opportunity was crafted by an excellent through ball from Finnigan, which set Ballard in on goal. The forward attempted to lob Crellin, but the opposing goalkeeper did well to tip the ball away to safety.

A neat team move followed as Doyle had another effort, this time beating the goalkeeper but being denied by a sliding block from Joe Anderson on the line.

Then, against the run of play, the hosts broke the deadlock. Price fired a loose ball into the bottom corner to punish the visitors in Everton’s first big opportunity of the afternoon.

That sparked a brief change in momentum as the Toffees had chances to extend their lead in quick succession.

Ollie Wright needed to be alert to tip Charlie Whitaker’s goalbound effort onto the crossbar, before saving his close-range header less than a minute later as Francis Okoronkwo blazed the rebound over.

Saints rode the storm but went into the break behind, despite Doyle and Bellis having efforts to find an equaliser which came to no avail.

Horseman’s youngsters were re-energised as they returned for the second half looking for a response, and they found it in the 52nd minute.

Payne pounced on a loose ball high in the Everton half and drove forward, riding a challenge before laying the ball off to Morgan who smashed the ball into the top corner with his left foot.

Ten minutes later, Morgan was on target once more as his rich vein of form continued - collecting the ball inside the opponents' half, the 16-year-old shifted his feet to beat two defenders and drill a low shot into the bottom corner to complete his second-successive brace.

After getting themselves ahead, Saints held firm to manage the game to its conclusion.

Everton’s goalscorer did spurn one guilt-edged change for a late leveller however, glancing a free header wide with just over ten minutes remaining.

Luke Pearce almost had an opportunity to extend the lead in the 86th minute, but he was denied by a vital challenge before he could unleash a shot inside the area.

In a bizarre passage of play in the final minutes of normal time, the hosts were reduced to nine men as both Price and Sebastian Quirk received their marching orders from the referee, Elliott Swallow.

Saints had done enough to pick up the three points as they sit level with Colchester United as the early leaders of Group F.