PL2 Report: Saints 1-2 Liverpool


Southampton's B team suffered defeat in Premier League 2 on Sunday as Liverpool claimed all three points at Snows Stadium.

Joe Hardy notched his second goal of the season after just five minutes to give Liverpool the lead.

But the hosts levelled ten minutes later, Luke Pearce making his first start of the season for Southampton’s B team rounding the keeper before producing a composed finish.

Saints dominated the game following the equaliser but were caught out on the break as Hardy claimed his second of the afternoon in the 39th minute.

Despite a well contested second 45, it ended in defeat for Dave Horseman's side.

Saints’ starting eleven featured a mixture of experience and youth, as the likes of Pascal Kpohomouh and Lucas Defise returned alongside Kayne Ramsay, Alex Jankewitz and Caleb Watts who kept their place.

Liverpool were without their top scorer in Premier League 2 this season Jake Cain but posed a threat through midfielder Tom Clayton, who was looking to add to his tally of three goals this season.

Despite the perceived lack of fire power the visitors started the brighter of the two sides, taking the lead after just five minutes.

22-year-old striker Hardy added to his one goal in six PL2 games with a clinical finish past Bycroft from close range.

But the hosts did not sit back after the early breakthrough, instead taking the game to Liverpool and getting their reward ten minutes later.

Pearce showed a degree of confidence not necessarily associated to a first-year scholar making his first B team start; played through by Jayden Smith and rounding the keeper before drawing his side level.

The hosts weren’t settling for just an equaliser, continuing to press Liverpool and looking to build on their deserved leveller.

Watts, Ferry and Smith combined well on multiple occasions down the left-hand-side, threatening to pierce through the visitors’ defence and denied only by the quick thinking of Liverpool keeper Liam Hughes.

The over-the-top long ball from deep midfield also proved effective for the hosts; Watts latching onto one in particular sent by Jankewitz, forcing a strong save from keeper Hughes.

But for all of Saints’ pressure the third goal of the game came for the visitors, Hardy using his pace to counter well using Fidel O’Rourke’s through ball and slotting home for his second of the afternoon.

For the remaining six minutes of the half following the goal the contest evened out, as both sides enjoyed dangerous possession but were met by two stubborn defences.

Despite this Saints enjoyed a strong end to the half during the two minutes added on.

First Ferry lofted a perfect cross into the box towards Pearce, who glanced his header just wide.

Then came a chance for Smith, set up by Defise who drove his side into the box, before laying the ball off to the Saints number nine who forced a superb close-range save from Hughes.

It seemed that the hosts came out for the second half with that same drive they showed in the final minutes of the first, as Watts saw his strong effort blocked on the edge of the box early on.

Liverpool also showed their threat during the opening minutes of the second half, looking particularly dangerous to Saints from corners and the resulting follow-ups.

The visitors really could have sealed the game on the hour mark; Hardy on his hat-trick bursting free one-on-one only to look for teammate O’Rourke, who couldn’t connect cleanly and so dragged his effort wide.

Unlike the majority of the first half, both sides enjoyed an even share of possession during a well contested second half.

O’Rourke and Hardy remained the visitors’ two main outlets, finding gaps when they could between the Saints defence but unable to put the game out of reach.

Substitute Kameron Ledwidge looked to inject life into the hosts when entered the fray, bursting down the right flank and winning a free kick in a dangerous position with 25 minutes to go.

The visitors continued to have chances come their way which they passed by; O’Rourke involved again hitting a long-range effort just wide before Abdulrahman Sharif hit a free kick well over the bar from a good position.

Ledwidge was involved again on 80 minutes, heading a corner just past the far post as Saints looked to capitalised on the missed Liverpool chances.

Another chance fell to Sharif two minutes later, with the midfielder missing the target again in another dangerous position on the left wing.

The visitors then thought they had a penalty on 83 minutes, but instead saw midfielder Elijah Dixon-Bonner booked for a dive inside the Saints penalty area.

In a half where Saints’ chances were few and far between a stroke of luck may have been their way to a point at Snows stadium, something which nearly came to fruition in the 86th minute.

A low Saints cross was struck into the penalty area from the left wing, met by Clayton who had his keeper to thank for saving his goal bound clearance with his feet.

Saints continued to throw men forward during the four minutes of stoppage time, but it was to no avail.

Despite another spirited performance, it ended in defeat for the hosts at Snows Stadium.

Saints are next in action on the 9th April with a visit along the south coast to Brighton and Hove Albion.