Southampton Under-18s put in a dominant display to beat Arsenal 2-1 in the Under-18s Premier League on Saturday.
Will Merry’s penalty and an own goal proved decisive for visitors to North London, with Arsenal responding with a spot-kick of their own. Many chances were created throughout for Saints, who could have won by a more comfortable margin.
Saints started confidently and knocked the ball around nicely in the opening stages. Their positive play produced the first real chance of the game too when Sam Amo-Ameyaw took seized upon a loose ball in the box but saw his strike blocked.
The one-way traffic continued and good play down the right saw Sonnie Davis force home goalkeeper Kovacevic to smother his powerful effort from around 10 yards.
On the half hour mark, the game was still goalless despite Saints keeping the pressure on. They managed to break through the Arsenal midfield line multiple times and the final ball or shot were the only component lacking from their play.
The hosts were struggling to cope but managed to break away for two good opportunities of their own. Striker Omari Benjamin struck an effort into the side-netting before Mathaeus Roberts forced a comfortable save for Adli Mohamed from range.
The visitors’ hard work in the first period was rewarded just before the half-time interval though.
Will Merry’s surge into the Arsenal box was halted by a pull of his shirt by an Arsenal defender, and the Saints striker then stepped up confidently to dispatch the resulting penalty into the top corner.
It could have been 2-0 before the break too. Tyler Dibling’s excellently weighted through ball presented Nick Oyekunle with a big chance to score but his effort was well stopped again by Kovacevic
Saints were bright again from the start of the second period and were inches away from doubling their lead when Sam Amo-Ameyaw fired against the post.
However, consistently good work did earn them their second goal shortly before the hour. Will Merry’s strike was not held by Arsenal goalkeeper Kovacevic and the ball subsequently found the net via a deflection off of home defender.
Arsenal were handed a lifeline with around 20 minutes remaining when Sebastian Ferdinand netted a penalty, but Saints maintained their attacking intent and looked to improve their margin of victory.
Multiple chances came and went, with opening scorer Merry and Tyler Dibling going close. Defender Will Armitage also saw two headers drop narrowly wide from corners.
However, despite the missed opportunities, Saints managed to see out their thoroughly deserved win in the latter stages.
Saints are in action again on Saturday 26th November when they host Brighton at Staplewood in the Under-18s Premier League, with kick-off at 11am.