Ryan Seager’s 73rd minute strike earned Southampton’s U18s a second draw of the Elite group stage at Staplewood on Saturday morning.
A hugely competitive game at Staplewood saw little to choose between the two teams, with the key action taking place in a ten minute spell during the second half, during which time, Reading had a man sent off before the visitors took the lead from the penalty spot.
The 65th minute dismissal of Royals forward Uche Ikpeazu for an off the ball incident, preceded a 70th minute spot kick awarded after Bevis Mugabi had fouled a Reading forward inside the area.
Saints ‘keeper Will Britt had kept his team in the game with a series of brave low saves, but he could do nothing about Tarique Fosu-Henry’s effort which sent him the wrong way.
The lead however, would only last for three minutes as the hosts responded swiftly to level the scores up again.
A break down the right side saw SEAGER take over possession inside the area to finish low under the on rushing ‘keeper, with the ball trickling over the line for 1-1.
From there on, Jason Dodd’s young team had the better of the chances against the ten men of the Royals, with Seager shooting tamely at goal, but even a late rally of set pieces couldn’t yield a second Saints strike as the hosts settled for a point.
The draw was another point to add to the opening day stalemate with Chelsea a fortnight ago, and Dodd had few complaints afterwards.
“We knew it was going to be a really tough game,” he told Saints Player. “Reading’s set up is fantastic and we knew they were going to be a strong and physical side.
“The first half was probably a bit 50-50 and as soon as the sending off came we were in the ascendancy, although they still caused a few problems on the counter-attack.
“We mentioned to the players at half time not to give silly fouls away and we gave them a penalty from a silly foul. We had another chat at the end and said, what’s the point of us talking at half time if they’re not going to take on board what we’re trying to suggest?
“However, we deserved a point there was no doubt about that, but maybe as was the case against Chelsea a couple of weeks ago, a point was a fair result.
“The good thing is they’re disappointed to have only got a point so that tells you that they’re going to go away and hopefully evaluate their performance. As coaches, we’ll do the same and look forward to what’s going to be a really tough game against a side we think are one of the favourites, and that’s Fulham next weekend.”
Saints U18s: Britt, Leggett, McCarthy, Mugabi, Leggett, Gape, Reed, Ariyibi (McQueen 62), Rowe, Gallagher, Seager. Subs (not used): White, Higgins, Sims.