B Team Report: Saints 2-3 Arsenal


Despite having strong periods throughout the game, Southampton's B team suffered a 3-2 defeat to PL2 Division One side Arsenal in the Premier League Cup.

Dave Horseman’s side made a fast start to the match, Caleb Watts picking up the ball on the edge of the box before finding the back of the net via the post after just five minutes.

Arsenal profited from a mix-up in communication at the back to draw level, Joel Idaho chipping a backtracking Ollie Wright from range to equalise on 22 minutes.

Saints ended the first half as they started it, profiting again from their pressure to retake the lead from the spot thanks to Kazeem Olaigbe just shy of stoppage time.

The two sides were evenly matched during the second half, but it was the Gunners who would find the net. Captain Folarin Balogun going on a solo run before firing home their second equaliser of the afternoon.

Just three minutes later Arsenal had their first lead of the afternoon. Substitute Mika Biereth finding the bottom corner with ten minutes to go.

Saints made two changes to the side that fell to defeat at Stoke on Monday night; Ramello Mitchell and Wright coming in for Olly Lancashire and Jack Bycroft respectively following a change of shape.

Arsenal’s line-up was a strong one, the exciting duo of Salah Oulad M’hand and Balogun, who skippered the side on Sunday, amongst the front line.

It was Saints who had the game’s opening chance, Olaigbe feeding Jayden Smith in one-on-one whose resulting shot just missed the far post inside three minutes.

The hosts soon profited from their early pressure, Watts receiving a neat one-two from Smith and firing past keeper Ovie Ejeheri with help off the far post.

Saints continue to prove the more dangerous of the two sides going forward, with Arsenal struggling to pressurise the hosts’ defence to any great deal.

It would take a huge slice of fortune for the Gunners to draw level at the training ground, and this came in the 22nd minute.

Keeper Wright playing a ball into an under pressure Chauke, who couldn’t keep hold of the ball before Idaho, who nicked possession, produced an audacious lob over the backtracking Saints keeper.

Both sides struggled to grab hold of the game following the equaliser, leading to an even battle which was, for the most part, contested in the middle of the park.

An opening fell to Saints’ prolific full-back Thierry Small on 38 minutes, finding space inside the box towards the left of the box before forcing Ejeheri into a strong save.

Small then carved another chance just moments later, once again down the left wing before drilling a low ball into the path of Mitchell, who somehow saw his shot blocked by a retreating Arsenal defender.

After an even half overall at the training ground it was Saints who were certainly in the driving seat as half time approached.

Then, with a minute of normal time to go, Saints were awarded a penalty after Chauke was fouled on the very edge of the box.

Up stepped Olaigbe, who made no mistake in restoring his side’s lead at the perfect time. Changing the team talk in both changing rooms.

Saints were equally lively during the start of the second 45, pushing Arsenal back but unable to put Ejeheri under any early pressure.

The best chance of the new half so far came just shy of the hour mark. Watts firing a deep free-kick towards the back post where an onrushing Dynel Simeu headed just over.

Arsenal then had a headed chance of their own. Oulad M’Hand’s corner met by Maze Ogungbo who couldn’t find the right side of the crossbar.

After the hosts had enjoyed most of the early stages of the new half it was now becoming an even contest between two well-matched sides.

With the final ten minutes looming the visitors started to grow in control of the game; substitute Mika Biereth almost meeting a dangerous cross but for Simeu being on his toes to meet it first.

Soon the Gunners made their pressure pay. Balogun winning possession before going on a solo run and firing past Wright to level the scores.

It was just three minutes before the visitors had flipped the game on its head. Biereth spinning his defender before confidently finding the bottom corner on 80 minutes.

Kevin Betsy’s side really started to turn on the style now; Balogun with another chance from a similar position to his goal.

Saints remained a threat on the break. Olaigbe carrying the ball from just past the halfway line on a superb run, a certain goal prevented by a fine Ejeheri stop.

Balogun looked to add a second with three minutes to go, breaking down the left wing but his lob simply a comfortable claim for Wright in the Saints net.

Olayinka was next to test Wright as Arsenal piled on the pressure. A fierce shot from just inside the penalty box causing the Saints keeper to parry the ball away.

Luckily for Saints the scoreline didn’t get any worse, but ultimately it was a disappointing defeat after a strong performance from Horseman’s side.

Next up for Saints is a visit to Norwich City in Premier League 2 on Friday 17th December (7pm GMT), as Premier League 2 football returns.