Southampton’s B team face another trip up north this week, facing Premier League 2 leaders Manchester City on Monday afternoon.
Manchester City vs Saints B
Premier League 2
City Football Academy
Monday 15th March, 1pm GMT
It’s a second top-of-the-table test for Southampton’s B team in as many weeks on Monday night, having faced second place Blackburn Rovers last-time-out.
On what was a difficult afternoon for Dave Horseman’s side Rovers struck early, before dominating the first half.
Despite Jayden Smith’s well-taken first goal of the season for the B team during the first 45’s closing stages, Rovers went on to win 5-1 at the Lancashire FA County Ground as they piled the pressure on Saints’ next opponents City.
City enjoyed a dominant afternoon themselves last-time-out, thrashing West Ham 5-0 at home.
A Cole Palmer hat-trick, alongside further strikes courtesy of Liam Delap and a Joshua Okotcha own goal, ensured of a comfortable afternoon for the Citizens.
Despite the sides occupying either side of the table, Monday’s game provides opportunities for both.
A win for City will see them extend their lead over Blackburn to a maximum of eight points, whilst Saints could rise above Leicester if they grab three points and the Foxes fail to win.
Saints enjoyed one of their most successful outings of the season the last time these two sides met back at the start of November.
Dan Nlundulu scored a hat-trick as Horseman’s side saw off City with a superb 5-2 win at Staplewood Campus, watched on by Ralph Hasenhüttl and his coaching staff.
Further strikes from Jake Vokins and Will Ferry cemented the victory on an enjoyable afternoon for all involved with the B team set-up.
After the game, Hasenhüttl spoke to the squad and clearly was impressed with what he saw with the likes of Nlundulu, Alex Jankewitz, Nathan Tella and Caleb Watts all going on to receive first-team call-ups in the coming weeks.
Ahead of what will prove to be another tricky trip for his side, Horseman admitted his players are looking forward to testing themselves again.
“They’re by far the best team in the league with all the best players,” he said. “But it’s a challenge we should love and should relish.
“Actually in one way this is a kick [the defeat at Blackburn] to say that when we go there [Manchester City] we’ve got to make sure we’re bang on it tactically, technically, physically and mentally.
“The best bit about PL2 is that every week is a different challenge. Blackburn played with such good intensity with a good switch whereas Manchester City will be so cultured in their build-up.
“We’ll look a completely different group to who played them earlier in the year. They’ll want to right that wrong because we were really good that day."