U18 Report: Youngsters return to winning ways

2022-23/U18s/Matchdays/20230401 Southampton vs Crystal Palace/DSC_1147_ukgrw8

A controlled performance with some bright attacking play saw Southampton Under-18s earn a 2-0 win over Brighton in the Under-18s Premier League on Saturday.

The opening goal of the match came courtesy of Will Merry as he fired home a rising left-footed drive in the eighth minute.

Brighton were reduced to 10 men when defender Charlie Tasker was shown a second yellow card in the second half, and Saints then confirmed their win when Nick Oyekunle added their second in stoppage-time.

Early pressure from Brighton saw Saints having to defend multiple set-piece deliveries into their box but the deadlock was eventually broken by Saints man Merry early n.

The striker found space to shift the ball onto his left foot just inside the area and fired home a rising effort into the top of the net via a slight deflection.

Saints goalkeeper Josh Jeffries was then forced into his first action of the game when an excellent ball over his defence sent home striker Joe Knight clear - Jeffries getting down well to parry his low shot away from danger.

At the other end of the pitch, Prince Ehibhatiomhan was making his first appearance for Saints since signing permanently and his driving run towards goal ended with him making Brighton’s Tommy Reid turn a fierce shot away at the near post.

The resulting corner also saw Reid deny Saints a second when he proved equal to Tyler Edmondson’s header at the back post.

Despite the promising moments in attack, there were still warnings at the back. Knight was again denied by Jeffries, with the visiting shot-stopper producing an eye-catching tip over the bar as a dipping volley came his way.

It was a very positive half for Jeremy Newton’s side though and Ehibhatiomhan again worked a great opportunity to double their lead before half time.

Picking up the ball in a deep, central position, the striker beat his marker brilliantly and created a clear route to goal for himself, but his shot was aimed straight at keeper Reid.

Early in the second half, Saints were given another boost in the game when Brighton were reduced to 10 men. Home defender Tasker was shown a second yellow card after pulling back Merry when the striker was through on goal.

The visitors were controlled the game well in the second period and were unfortunate not to see their lead doubled when substitute Jay Robinson broke through and forced another good save from Reid, who dived to his right and turned wide.

Robinson was again denied as the game moved towards its conclusion – collecting a ball across the box from Tyler Dibling before seeing his close-range effort charged down well by Reid, who had kept his side in the contest.

Late pressure from Saints did tell in the end though and Oyekunle was on hand to finish a swift break by calmly slotting across goal and into the far corner.