U21 Report: Saints 4-0 Crystal Palace

2023-24/U21s/Matchdays/20240315 Southampton vs Crystal Palace/CM_Southampton_U21s_v_Crystal_Palace_U21s_41_gtu2tl

Southampton Under-21s made it three games unbeaten with a 4-0 win over Crystal Palace to rise into the Premier League 2 play-off places.

Joe O’Brien-Whitmarsh’s early header got Saints off to the perfect start inside four minutes, as they led by one at the break.

Two quickfire goals at the start of the second half added breathing room thanks to composed finishes from Luke Pearce and Sam Amo-Ameyaw.

Sonnie Davis' impressive finish in stoppage time added some gloss to another impressive performance.

Saints were completely unchanged from their dominant win over Stoke City a week prior.

An unchanged side stepped out for the second PL2 game in a row. (Photos: Chris Moorhouse)

Saints struck early for the second week in a row, with a similar passage of play to their impressive opener last time out.

Jake Vokins’ whipped, left-footed cross was delivered perfectly into the path of O’Brien-Whitmarsh’s late run into the area, and the Irishman’s powerful header cannoned in off the crossbar to open the scoring.

The early pressure all came from Adam Asghar’s side and Tyler Dibling was next to go close with two efforts; a low drive was gathered by Palace goalkeeper Joe Whitworth, before defender Craig Farquhar stooped to clear another shot.

Cam Bragg delivered a curling cross that was met by Vokins, but his header from a tight angle hit the side netting with the game still yet to reach 15 minutes.

The visitors eventually found their first shot on goal in the 19th minute when Roshaun Mathurin hit a shot from range that was tipped onto the crossbar and over by Josh McNamara.

O'Brien-Whitmarsh celebrates his second goal in as many games.

A brief spell of possession for Palace followed; Mathurin went closest again with a mazy run and shot that was blocked by a group of bodies in the area.

However, Saints regained control with relative ease and Jayden Meghoma hit a speculative shot from distance, before a team move ended with O’Brien-Whitmarsh striking just wide from the edge of the box.

More one-touch play in the middle of the park from Saints resulted in Amo-Ameyaw bursting into space and striking a low effort that was saved.

Dibling then scooped a shot over the bar after finding room in the area, as Saints were almost punished for their missed chances when Adler Nascimento hit the side netting just before half-time.

Crystal Palace came out the blocks firing at the start of the second half, with McNamara called into action twice in quick succession.

Saints’ goalkeeper first tipped over a cross from Mathurin that was goalbound from a tight angle, before diving to catch a shot from distance by Asher Agbinone.

After soaking up the pressure, Saints gave themselves breathing room with two quickfire goals as they returned to the ascendancy with confidence.

First, on the counter, Amo-Ameyaw released Pearce who raced ahead of a defender and slotted home one-on-one with Whitworth.

Then, Amo-Ameyaw found the back of the net himself after being picked out by Sonnie Davis’s defence-splitting pass, which gave Saints’ winger time and space to calmly bend a shot into the bottom corner.

Amo-Ameyaw scored Saints' third.

There was almost a fourth for Saints just after the hour mark, but O’Brien-Whitmarsh’s close-range header was saved.

The game appeared to be petering out, with Saints content to control proceedings as Palace were unable to find any sustained foothold.

There was still time for one more goal though, and it came in style as Davis powered home an impressive finish into the top corner from a tight angle to score his second goal in as many games.

Crystal Palace’s unbeaten 2024 was halted by another impressive display, as Saints go three games unbeaten themselves in Premier League 2 as they move into the final play-off position.

Saints: McNamara, Davis, Awe, Lawrence, Meghoma, Bragg (c) (Djaló 55), Amo-Ameyaw, Dibling, Pearce, O'Brien-Whitmarsh, Vokins.

Subs not used: Upstell, Armitage, Carson, Ehibhatiomhan.

Goals: O'Brien-Whitmarsh 4, Pearce 49, Amo-Ameyaw 54, Davis 90+4.

Crystal Palace: Whitworth (c), Grante (Agbinone 46), Watson, Francis, Farquhar, Reid (S. Williams 41), Cardines (V. Williams 71), Wells-Morrison, Akinwale, Mathurin, Nascimento (Ferguson 46).

Subs not used: Izquierdo.

Yellow Cards: Wells-Morrison 73, Akinwale 79.