U18 Report: Saints clinch Premier League South title


Southampton Under-18s confirmed their status as Under-18 Premier League South champions with a convincing 3-0 win over Reading on Wednesday.

A strong second-half display from Carl Martin’s side saw goals from Diamond Edwards, Kamari Doyle and Rylee Wright confirm Saints’ position at the top of the table, claiming the title for just the second time in the club's history.

The hosts got the ball down early on and played the type of football that had taken them to the brink of the title. 

Doyle had the first clear opening when he was slid into space on the left side of the penalty area by Matt Carson, only to see his low, left-footed effort graze the outside of the far post.

The Saints forward then tested Reading goalkeeper Tom Norcott with a firm strike from the other side of the box shortly after, seeing the ball palmed away well and out for a corner.

With around 20 minutes on the clock, Doyle went even closer to breaking the deadlock. Meeting Sonnie Davis's cross at the back post with a volley, the ball cannoned back off the crossbar and somehow evaded three red and white shirts on the rebound.

It proved to be a fairly frustrating first-half overall for the hosts as Reading blocks and tackles further prevented them from the taking the lead.

Saints strikers Luke Pearce and Dom Ballard had the best opportunities to hand their side the lead shortly before half-time. Pearce’s placed effort towards the bottom corner was well smothered by Norcott and Ballard then failed to keep his volley down despite a clean contact with the ball.

Having netted a brace against the Royals on Saturday, Edwards had the first chance of the second period for the hosts. He tricked his way into a shooting position but could only find the side-netting from a narrow angle.

However, the attacking-midfielder was not to be denied for long. A similar piece of skill on the edge of the area saw him beat another Reading challenge and fire a rasping strike in off the crossbar to make it 1-0 and release some pressure on the hosts in the 65th minute.

Buoyed by Edwards's moment of individual brilliance, Saints doubled their lead just two minutes later. A low Carson cross from the left found an unmarked Doyle in a central position and he provided the perfect finish across goal and into the far corner of the net.

Searching for a third, substitute Jimmy Jay Morgan almost found a third with a spectacular scissor kick that flashed narrowly wide from a corner.

However, a comfortable 3-0 win was confirmed for Saints in the dying stages when an excellent ball through from Davis gave substitute Wright the chance to dink exquisitely over the onrushing Norcott, swiftly followed by scenes of celebration at Staplewood Campus. 

Saints round off their league fixtures on Saturday when they host Chelsea at Staplewood (11am BST), with a date for the national final against Under-18s Premier League North winners Manchester City to be set following the conclusion of the regular season.