Stoke U18s 2-1 Saints U18s
The youngsters suffered their first defeat of the season in the top-two clash on Saturday morning.
Jason Dodd’s side had their work cut out for them almost from the off as after just a minute of play they fell behind in bizarre circumstances. Goalkeeper Chris Johns’s free-kick on the edge of his own area ricocheted kindly to a Stoke forward who gleefully took full advantage of the empty net to put the hosts in front early on.
Despite losing Sam McQueen to an early injury, Saints looked for a swift response and went close to scoring when Ryan Seager fired wide from Omar Rowe’s pass.
However, against the run of play they were given an even harder task when a free-kick awarded on the edge of the area was headed home off the crossbar to double the advantage with 20 minutes on the watch.
Surprisingly, Stoke immediately looked to shut up shop as they stalled play at every opportunity, but the visitors managed to pull one back before the break when Seager found ROWE who buried his 38th minute strike into the corner to reduce the deficit heading into the interval.
In the second 45 Saints pushed on in search of a leveller but the slow tactics from the home side restricted opportunities with Seager hitting one over whilst Charlie Higgins was also denied.
The loss ended the youngsters’ unbeaten run at the start of the season and saw the hosts replace Saints at the top of the table.
It was a difficult result for Dodd to take given the manner of the performance from City once they had gone two goals up, but although frustrated, the Saints U18s coach was dignified in defeat.
“We huffed and puffed to get back to get back into the game,” he explained.
“We weren’t given too many problems, but we couldn’t have got off to a worse start, and the second goal arrived on the back of a silly foul from our point of view.
“I’ve never experienced a team do what they did after going 2-0 up and I think it became more difficult for us as we hurried for a way back.
“It’s disappointing to lose our unbeaten run here, and we have to pick ourselves up now for a big game against Manchester United next week.”
Saints U18s: Johns, Leggett, Mugabi, McCarthy, Colmer, Gape, Flannigan, Rowe (Hesketh 66), Reed, McQueen (Higgins 5) (Simms 78), Seager.