U18 Report: Saints 6-3 Aston Villa


Southampton Under-18s made it three straight wins in the Under-18s Premier League on Saturday as excellent attacking play recorded them a 6-3 win over Aston Villa.

With top spot in the Under-18s Premier League South group in sight at kick-off, Saints did not take long to hit their stride and gained the lead with just five minutes on the clock.

A good low cross forced Villa goalkeeper Josh Lane to smother at the feet of Saints striker Luke Pearce but Tyler Dibling was on hand to turn home the rebound with the visitors unable to clear their lines fully.

The pressing from the hosts was consistently winning the ball back in promising areas and this produced another opening on 12 minutes. A combination of Luke Pearce and Dom Ballard forced the ball to Fedel Ross Lang, but the winger dragged his shot wide of the far post.

Saints were well on top and continued to press for their second goal that eventually came in the 18th minute.

Efforts from Ross Lang and Leon Pambou were well dealt with by the Villa backline but, as play was recycled from the right, Dom Ballard turned home a firm Pambou cross from close range to continue his fine goalscoring form for the Under-18s and B team.

Villa did find a way back into the game midway through the first-half though when Chisom Afoka tapped home a rebound against the run of play.

With both sides struggling to gain full control in the latter stages of the first period, proceedings sprung back into life with three quick goals before half-time.

Saints restored their two-goal advantage from a corner as Ryan Finnigan finished a Leon Pambou knockdown, but Villa’s next attack presented an opportunity for Edward Rowe to make it 3-2.

However, another corner routine – this time from the right as opposed to the left – added a fourth for Carl Martin’s hosts. Matt Carson’s low delivery to the near post met the run of Luke Pearce and the striker had the simple task of turning home unmarked.

A fast start was needed to the second-half for Saints to truly make use of their good work in the opening 45 but Villa were fastest out the blocks and grabbed their third of the afternoon when Chisom Afoka was on hand to turn home a low cross.

As it had done many times before though, the momentum swung yet again. Saints responded to their latest setback by forcing a corner and, after Jem Hewlett had headed the initial delivery against the post, Tyler Dibling squeezed bobbling shot under visiting keeper Josh Lane from the 18-yard line.

The home dominance was now clear to see for all in attendance at Staplewood after Dibling’s second, but Saints were not satisfied with just the five goals.

Having seen his teammate complete his brace, Ryan Finnigan proved a calm head at the right moment when he rounded the goalkeeper and rolled home on 66 minutes to take his own tally to two for the day.

There were to be no more additions to the scoreline but Eddie Beach did have to be alert to see off strong efforts from visiting forwards Chisom Afoka and Tommi O’Reilly, whilst a seventh was nearly added in favour of the hosts when substitute Tommy Lee-Higgs saw his late penalty saved.

After a two-week break in the season, Saints will be back in action on the 20th November when they travel to take on Tottenham Hotspur away from home.