B Team Report: Saints suffer Leeds defeat


Southampton's B team suffered a narrow defeat in a breathless encounter against Leeds United in Premier League 2 action at Staplewood.

Leeds opened the scoring inside the first four minutes through Mateo Joseph as Jeremiah Mullen headed home a second in an end-to-end first half.

James Bree pulled a goal back with a superb volleyed strike but Saints trailed at half time.

Despite a late push, a dramatic equaliser didn't materialise as the visitors held on to win.

There was a sprinkling of senior experience on the field for Saints - just as Leeds had done in the reverse fixture at Elland Road - with Dave Horseman’s youthful side joined by four first team players.

Alex McCarthy lined up in goal, as James Bree, Joe Aribo, and Sam Edozie all started under the lights at Staplewood.

The table-topping clash began at a breathless pace under the lights at Staplewood, as Saints produced the first effort on goal in the second minute.

After a dangerous cross from Bree, the ball fell to Edozie on the edge of the area who beat his man with tricky footwork but could fire a shot straight at Dani van den Heuvel.

Straight up the other end Sonny Perkins was played through on goal with space to run into, but his scuffed shot bounced wide of the far post.

Less than a minute later, however, the visitors opened the scoring as Joseph notched his 13th goal of the season; the striker collected a pass inside the box and buried his shot into the bottom right corner.

Both sides threatened with their relentless pressing and Joseph almost added a quickfire second after being played in on goal once more, but McCarthy made an important stop from close range.

Edozie then had a powerful effort saved by van den Heuvel that was swiftly followed by a Dom Ballard shot that was deflected into the side netting.

McCarthy was called into action again as the encounter had barely reached 12 minutes, this time denying Charlie Allen’s one-on-one shot with his feet.

The visitors were knocking on the door and did find their second through Jeremiah Mullen, who beat an offside trap to latch onto a header from a corner and flick the ball into the back of the net.

Saints needed a response to haul themselves back into the tie, and a quickfire trio of blocked shots from Ballard, Edozie, and Kamari Doyle saw them begin to turn the tide.

A well executed high press almost resulted in a Saints goal as Sam Amo-Ameyaw charged towards the Leeds box and combined with Ballard, but the latter’s attempted pass was stopped by an excellent sliding block.

A Southampton goal was coming and it materialised in emphatic fashion; after some neat footwork, a scooped cross from Doyle was cleared out to Bree, who fired home a well-struck volley to reduce the deficit.

There was almost an equaliser before half time as a corner dropped to Will Armitage whose shot was deflected over from close range, but Saints trailed at the break.

Horseman’s side looked more composed as the second half began, and settled into more routine spells of possession as they searched for their second goal.

Arguably against the run of play, the best chance of the second half fell to Leeds just after the hour as they had a period of chances of their own; a low cross into the path of Joseph was smothered well by McCarthy.

Perkins then spurned two gilt-edged opportunities for Leeds, firing wide with only McCarthy to beat before rounding the Saints goalkeeper and hitting the side netting.

With the game entering the final 20 minutes, Leon Pambou then went close to finding an equaliser with a free header that was only guided into the arms of van den Huevel.

The visitors thought they had a third goal as a scramble in the area resulted in a vital goal line clearance by a back peddling Saints defender.

Saints ramped up the pressure as time began to evade them, both Ballard and Edozie saw shots blocked and saved inside the area.

Luca Thomas could have wrapped the game up for Leeds with a dipping shot that just went over the crossbar before a Saints siege in the final minutes.

A flurry of corners and free-kicks deep into stoppage time all went without a crucial touch as a late equaliser couldn’t be found and Leeds took all three points.