B Team Report: Smith secures narrow victory


Jayden Smith's 35th minute goal was enough for Southampton's B team to claim three points over Middlesbrough at St Mary's in Premier League 2.

With momentum swinging in Boro’s favour it was Saints who got the game’s opener. Jayden Smith finishing from the tightest of angles into the far, bottom corner on 35 minutes.

Middlesbrough had the chance to level the scores from the spot on 54 minutes, only for Callum Kavanagh’s weak penalty to be well saved by Ollie Wright.

With Dynel Simeu missing through suspension and Kazeem Olaigbe suffering from illness, Saints went young once again for the return to St Mary’s.

Amongst those coming into the side was 15-year-old Tyler Dibling, making his first appearance for the B team set-up alongside Dom Ballard and Kamari Doyle up top.

The visitors fielding a familiar looking line-up, Calum Kavangh, going into the game with six league goals to his name, the main man up on the teamsheet.

Saints got off to a flying start, Lewis Payne’s deep cross deflected just behind for a corner inside the first minute.

Things took a bizarre turn in the 4th minute, when Ethan Burnett’s back past was picked by Ollie Wright as Saints conceded a free kick inside the penalty area.

Skipper Isaac Fletcher stepped up and rattled the far post to spare Wright and Burnett’s blushes.

Things certainly didn’t quieten down as the half wore on, Cain Skyes receiving the game’s first booking after just eight minutes for a tactical foul on Ballard.

Dave Horseman promised an exciting game after Monday night’s win against Fulham and the first ten minutes certainly lived up to the billing.

No sooner had Kavanagh’s shot on goal been well blocked, Ballard was sent through on goal at the other end, well tracked by Bryant Bilongo in the Boro defence.

Another opening presented itself to the visitors on 16 minutes. Joe Gibson latching on to Wright’s parried save and seemingly had to score, but for a superb last-ditch Burnett challenge.

Gibson was involved again soon after, cutting inside from that left flank and aiming for the far corner but unable to execute his shot which sailed wide.

Boro had the ball in the back of the net on 22 minutes, Pharrell Willis striking towards goal before Kavanagh nicked the ball over Wright but from an offside position.

Saints burst into life after a period of consistent pressure four minutes later; Jack Turner carrying the ball through midfield before winning a corner, which fell to Ballard at the back post who couldn’t turn his shot goal wards under pressure.

The visitors were then offered an opportunity on the very edge of the penalty area, as Gibson was taken down by Burnett. Fletcher could only hit the wall.

Kavanagh came closer yet to an opener as the half hour mark came and went, tapping an effort from inside the six-yard-box inches wide of the far post.

The opener soon followed and it came against the run of play.

Dibling feeding Smith, who found the far corner from the tightest of angles to give Saints the lead in front of the home fans.

After a tough period in the game the goal proved exactly what Saints needed, as the chances soon began to fall in their favour.

From a low corner the ball fell to Lewis Payne at the back post, whose volley was blocked just ahead of the line by a brave Boro defender.

The visitors broke soon after, full-back Daniel Dodds fed through on goal just to the left of the six-yard box. His shot well saved by the feet of Wright.

Dodds was involved again from the resulting corner, heading against the left-hand post with Wright beaten this time around.

But the final chance of the half fell to Saints. Doyle stepping over a free kick just to the right of the penalty area and forcing a scrambling Oliver Swann to see it past the far post.

Horseman made a switch at the interval, Zuriel Otseh-Taiwo coming on for Burnett as Payne shifted into the centre back role.

It was an end-to-end start to the second half too, with Boro having a second goal ruled out for offside on 50 minutes in front of an amused Saints following.

Boro’s pressure kept on coming and they looked to have their reward as a penalty was awarded following Payne’s handball.

Up stepped Kavanagh, whose weak spot kick aimed down the middle was dealt with by Wright. Cueing more celebrations from the Saints faithful.

Middlesbrough kept searching for an equaliser. Skyes letting fly from the edge of the box on the half volley and rattling the post with Wright stretching.

Wright was called into action again on 69 minutes, Fletcher was a speculative effort from the edge of the area forcing the Saints keeper to tip the effort over the bar.

Saints had a couple of half chances themselves in the second half. Ballard with the pick of them on 77 minutes with a low shot which Swan did well to claim.

Doyle looked to go one better than his free kick in the first half and nestle his shot under the bar but saw his effort from slightly further out in the 83rd minute fly over.

As the last ten minutes ticked down Saints did well to withstand the Boro pressure, whilst also holding the ball when needed at the other end.

Ultimately the win and an all-important three points was secured by Horseman’s side, seeing them rise to seventh and level with fifth in Premier League 2.

Next up is the rearranged meeting with AFC Bournemouth in the Premier League Cup, taking place on Thursday 27th January at Staplewood Campus (12pm GMT).