U18 Report: Aston Villa 0-5 Saints


Southampton's youngsters climbed to the top of the Under-18 Premier League table with a comprehensive 5-0 victory over Aston Villa on Friday.

Dom Ballard was the star of the show once more as Saints emerged victorious in the West Midlands.

Finding the net after just three minutes of play, Ballard added another two goals to his tally from the penalty spot.

Will Armitage made a huge impression on his debut for Saints, having only signed for the club a matter of days ago. Luke Pearce wrapped up proceedings with another converted penalty kick seconds before the final whistle.

It was a much changed starting eleven for Carl Martin's side, with five changes from the team that faced Brighton last time out.

New signing Will Armitage entered the squad for the first time, with Ollie Wright, Matt Carson, Dom Ballard and Tyler Dibling all starting at Bodymoor.

It was a dominating display from Carl Martin's side who were eager to right the wrongs of the reverse fixture back in November, where Saints conceded three goals on their path to victory.

In form Ballard ceased the opportunity early on scoring from close range to give Saints the lead after just three minutes. Unable to get his first shot off, Ballard recovered and sent the ball bouncing into the bottom left hand corner.

Ballard nearly found the back of the net for the second time in the opening 20 minutes before Luke Softley intervened to make a crucial tackle for the hosts.

It didn't take long for Saints to make it two, though, with new signing Armitage finding the back of the net just moments later. Dibling danced his way into the box and past the Villa defence before releasing a bouncing ball across the face of goal, merely calling for Armitage to tap the ball in.

Maintaining pressure on the Villa defence, it wasn't long before Saints were presented with another opportunity as Jem Hewlett was brought down inside the area. A calm and collected display from Ballard saw him claim his second and Saints' third goal of the affair.

The second half started with a positive spell from the hosts who looked to find a way back into the clash with Travis Patterson finding himself in a strong position in front of goal but his shot bounced wide of the post.

Despite a positive start, it wasn't to be for Villa as an error from James Wright saw Jimmy Jay-Morgan brought down inside the area for another Saints penalty.

The perfect opportunity for Ballard to secure his hattrick, there was no hesitation from the youngster as he sent Wright the wrong way and Saints extended their lead.

Despite a valiant effort from the hosts, Saints continued to control the game as they looked to go top of the league.

After being substituted at the hour mark in place of Dibling, Luke Pearce monopolised on his time on the pitch. After being brought down in the area shortly before the full time whistle, Pearce was able to follow in Ballard's footsteps and find the back of the net from the penalty spot.

A successful day on the road for Carl Martin's side who now sit top of the Under-18 Premier League table with another two week break before they host West Bromwich Albion at Staplewood Campus.