U18 Report: Saints beaten in PL Cup opener


Southampton's youngsters faced a tough start to their 2021/22 Under 18s Premier League Cup campaign, losing 4-0 to Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

Saints started the game brightly, the lively Fedel Ross-Lang having his shot deflected over after just seven minutes, before seeing his cross from the resulting corner trouble Forest keeper Aaron Bott.

Next to try his luck was Jimmy Jay Morgan who, fresh off his goal against Arsenal last week, cut in from the left and again forced a save from Bott as he looked to squeeze the ball in at the near post.

But with just 18 minutes on the clock the visitors were made to pay for not taking their chances; Esapa Osong stealing the ball inside Saints' half before firing across Gustav Lillienberg's goal to give Forest the lead.

Carl Martin's side had to respond, Morgan leading such after connecting to Cameron Bragg's cross-field pass with a first-time volley which grazed the crossbar on 24 minutes.

However a quick fast break from the hosts put any hopes of an equaliser to rest, Osong beating Saints captain Leon Pambou before finding the bottom corner for his second of the morning.

Fortunately for Saints Lillienberg ensured it wasn't two in as many minutes for Forest; saving well from Jack Perkins' close-range shot just shy of the half hour mark.

Into the second 45 and it was the visitors who had the first real chance of the new half. Ross-Lang involved again, this time curling a free-kick towards goal which Bott did well to turn behind on 55 minutes.

Then came another effort for Forest and a chance for Osong to grab his hat-trick, the forward making Lillienberg work again with the Saints keeper equal to a near-post shot.

Ten minutes later it was indeed three, Samuel Collins unmarked at the back post following a corner and able to take a touch before firing home on 69 minutes.

Martin had bought on Luke Pearce at the break to try and get Saints back into the game; his first chance coming on 73 minutes as a shot was well blocked at the death by a well-timed challenge, which would've handed the visitors a lifeline.

Osong was evidently keen to grab that hat-trick but looked as low that chance had gone a-begging 20 minutes from time as Lillienberg denied him one-on-one.

But the inevitable came in the 77th minute, rounding off the morning's scoring on the end of substitute Joseph Gardner's low cross.