B Team Report: Ten man Saints battle to point


Southampton's B team took the lead twice, but were pegged back and had to settle a point with ten men at West Brom in the Premier League Cup.

After a nervy start Saints settled into the game and were the better side as the first half drew to a close, epitomised by Ramello Mitchell’s confident finish on 45 minutes to give his side the lead via the narrowest of angles.

But the visitors’ momentum was halted early into the second half, with Dynel Simeu sent off for a challenge in the middle of the park and Jamie Andrews levelling the scores from the spot 15 minutes later.

It took a goal of real quality to restore Saints’ lead on 74 minutes. Kazeem Olaigbe volleying the ball into the far corner to make it 2-1 with his 11th goal of the season.

Saints’ first line-up of the new calendar year faced some omissions due to the recent loan departures.

Ollie Wright started between the sticks with Jack Bycroft now at Dorchester, whilst Thierry Small, Simeu and captain Kegs Chauke all kept their place in the side after recent first team exploits.

The Baggies almost profited from a lapse of concentration to claim an early lead. Toby King nicking possession inside the penalty area before firing towards the far corner, forcing a superb save from Wright after just six minutes.

A quick break via the quick Rayhaan Tulloch opened up a second opportunity for the hosts, his low ball across the box ultimately missing the intended target.

Kamari Doyle took it upon himself to hand Saints their opening chance, carrying the ball from the centre circle all the way to the edge of the Baggies penalty area before being fouled.

The youngster stepped up for the resulting free-kick, skimming the crossbar with an effort intended for the top-left corner.

Back came the Baggies and Tulloch once again, a run from the same side followed by a shot towards the far corner which backtracking Saints did well to deflect wide.

Next to come close was Simeu, who’s well executed backwards header almost caught West Brom keeper Ted Cann out before it nestled on the roof of the net just shy of 20 minutes.

Saints’ biggest chance of the game came 16 minutes later; Chauke intercepting the ball in midfield before feeding Doyle, whose lobbed ball forward was met by a clever Ballard flick.

Onto the ball came Olaigbe, whose shot was uncharacteristically tame but deflected behind for a corner.

From that resulting corner came another effort for Simeu, who headed the ball towards goal at the back post and forced a backtracking Cann to catch well.

Saints certainly grew in confidence as the half wore on, some neat interplay during the final five minutes ended in a shot from range for Chauke. A comfortable collect for Cann.

Finally, in the final minute of normal time, the visitors profited from the pressure.

Zuriel Otseh-Taiwo played a superb ball down the line, with Mitchell the intended target, who used his pace to skip past Cann and find the back of the net from the tightest of angles.

It was almost two inside the three minutes of stoppage time, Doyle taking aim from range and forcing the Baggies keeper into a low save down to his left.

That intent continued into the second 45, Ballard picking up the ball just outside the box before driving past two players and forcing the ball to be tipped round the post.

But that momentum took a huge hit on 52 minutes as Simeu received a straight red for a challenge in the middle of the park.

This forced a change in shape, with Jem Hewlett entering the field and Ballard the player sacrificed.

West Brom’s first effort since Saints were depleted came soon after, Reyes Cleary firing just over from the edge of the penalty area.

Cleary was then involved in the equaliser, bursting into the Saints box and pulled down by Lewis Payne as the referee pointed to the spot.

Up stepped Andrews, who scored from the spot at home to Fulham last time out, proving just as clinical this time around to level the scores on 68 minutes.

With the tide seemingly swinging Saints were to need of strike of pure quality if they were to retake the lead. Olaigbe providing just that in the 74th minute.

A free kick whipped in by Doyle was seemingly headed clear by a Baggies defender, only for the young Belgian to volley it first time into the far corner.

From then on West Brom continued to threaten the young Saints defence, which now consisted of Otseh-Taiwo, Payne, Hewlett and Matt Carson.

But despite the brave defending, the hosts broke the resilience at the very death.

A ball whipped across the box found the run of Cleary, who fired past Wright with power, giving the keeper no chance.

Another cruel end to what was another brave and impressive performance for Saints B, who can go home happy with the point.

Dave Horseman’s side are next in action art home to Premier League 2 leaders Fulham at Snows Stadium on Monday 17th January.