U18 Report: Ballard strikes as Saints progress


Southampton's youngsters ensured progression from the Under-18s Premier League Cup group stages, after a 1-1 draw at Everton on Saturday.

Dom Ballard opened the scoring just seven minutes into the second half, tapping past the onrushing Toffees keeper at Finch Farm.

That lead only lasted six minutes, Everton's Coby Ebere latching onto a deflected ball to level the scores as both sides settled for a point in Group B.

It was an open start to the game, Kamari Doyle with the first chance of the morning via a low shot from the edge of the box. Keeper Dylan Graham doing well to meet it down to his right.

Sonnie Davis then threatened as the opening ten minutes came to an end, cutting in from the right wing before seeing his shot blocked just in front of the keeper.

Everton's first chance came via Ebere, who ran down the left flank and fired across goal. Saints' Adli Mohamed doing well to turn it away.

On 15 minutes came another effort for the hosts, Halid Djankpata stealing possession on the edge of the visitors's box and forcing Mohamed into another fine save from close range.

Before the break Saints had a further two chances; Davis's long ball from deep bouncing into the path of Doyle, who dragged his shot just wide of the far post, before Samuel Amo-Ameyaw hit one from range as Graham made another good stop.

The games's opener came soon after the break. Doyle's burst from midfield saw him feed Ballard, who surged through one-on-one before tapping past the onrushing keeper in clinical fashion.

It could've been two in three minutes for Saints, Doyle again involved cutting in from the left but saw his low effort just miss the far post.

Instead Everton grabbed an equaliser, a deflected ball from midfield finding its way to Ebere, who took a touch and hit it past Mohamed on 58 minutes.

The remainder of the game proved finely balanced, but Ballard thought he had won it with just eight minutes to play.

After being found by Cameron Bragg, the England international cut inside on the edge of the box before hitting a superb shot past Graham, only to be denied by the offside flag.

Despite this a point was enough for Saints to progress from their group, boasting an unbeaten record along with it as a they claimed top spot.