U21 Report: Chelsea 2-0 Saints

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Southampton Under-21s’ five-game unbeaten streak came to an end at the hands of Chelsea in Premier League 2.

The hosts held a two-goal lead at the break as Leo Castledine and Dujuan Richards found the net with strikes that proved to be the difference after a quieter second half.

Adam Asghar had named an unchanged side from the last PL2 outing two weeks ago, knowing a play-off finish was in their hands with two games to play. 

Tyler Dibling in action. (Photos: Stuart Martin)

The first opening at Kingsmeadow fell to Saints as Sam Amo-Ameyaw had an early sighter with a curling, left-footed shot that was saved well.

At the other end, Josh McNamara was called into action and dealt with Chelsea’s first attempts on goal impressively.

The first stop came at full stretch to tip away Zak Sturge’s goalbound header from a corner, before McNamara remained alert to deny Castledine’s close-range effort moments later.

Chelsea’s No. 10 wasn’t kept out for long, however, as the scoring was opened in fortuitous fashion.

Nico Lawrence’s clearance unfortunately struck his defensive partner Zach Awe, and the ball fell kindly for Castledine who finished off the right-hand post.

The hosts gained momentum after their opener and searched for a second, with McNamara making another important save to deny Zain Silcott-Duberry who connected with a deep cross.

McNamara made some important saves despite Saints trailing.

A second goal did arrive just after the 20th minute though, as Richards struck a well-hit shot across goal from the left of the area to double Chelsea’s lead.

Saints grew back into the contest but were restricted to shots from range at the end of the first half; Ussumane Djaló and Sonnie Davis tried their luck with blocked efforts.

Chasing a way back into the game, Saints looked rejuvenated after the break and came close to pulling a goal back as Davis powered a low shot across goal

With the hour mark approaching, Jay Robinson also went close with a powerful strike at a tight angle that was saved and cleared before anyone could convert the rebound.

Chelsea should have had a third after substitute Jimmy-Jay Morgan caused a scramble in the area with a shot that was blocked, with a pair of Saints bodies somehow keeping out Castledine’s rebound.

Castledine and McNamara’s heavy involvements continued when the Chelsea striker hit a self-set volley on the edge of the area, which was pushed away by Saints’ goalkeeper.

Saints best chance of the second half came in the 75th minute when a cross from Davis found Luke Pearce in the six-yard box, but the striker couldn’t connect fully to convert.

As the game ticked over into stoppage time, Chelsea thought they had a third but Morgan’s first time finish was ruled out with the former-Saint deemed offside as he met a cross in the area.

Saints were consigned to defeat at Kingsmeadow but, with results elsewhere, still have a play-off finish in their own hands ahead of their final regular season game against Manchester United on Monday.

Chelsea: Merrick, Hughes, Murray-Campbell, Williams, Sturge (captain), McMahon (Wade 90), Silcott-Duberry, Golding, Richards (McNeilly 82), Castledine (Russell-Denny 82), Moreira (Morgan 58).

Subs not used: Campbell.

Goals: Castledine 13, Richards 21.

Yellow Cards: Hughes 41, Murray-Campbell 53.

Saints: McNamara, Davis, Awe, Lawrence, Meghoma, Bragg (captain), Amo-Ameyaw, Dibling, Pearce (Merry 84), Djaló (Vokins 72), Robinson.

Subs not used: Mohamed, Armitage, Lett.