Season Review: Saints Under-21s

By SFC Media time Tue 24 May Club

Southampton Under-21s repeated the feat of the first team, as they ended the 2015/16 campaign sixth in their respective Premier League table.

Martin Hunter’s men, much like Ronald Koeman’s side, enjoyed an excellent run towards the end of the campaign that lifted them above the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.

Saints’ development side also made an impressive start to the season, as they enjoyed a five-game unbeaten run. A 2-2 draw with Manchester City on the opening day was followed by an excellent 3-1 win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

A second home draw against Middlesbrough soon followed, before a comfortable 3-1 win at home to Leicester City and an excellent 5-2 victory against Reading at Adams Park.

By the time Saints headed to Carrow Road to face Norwich City, the likes of Jason McCarthy, Lloyd Isgrove, Jack Stephens, Sam Gallagher and Jordan Turnbull were all out on loan.

That coincided with a tough run for Hunter’s youngsters, as they lost to Sunderland, Everton and the Canaries, before a morale-boosting victory away at Tottenham Hotspur in early December.

Another tough run soon followed, but for the likes of Alfie Jones, Ollie Cook Olufela Olomola, Richard Bakary and 15-year-old Jake Vokins, it was an excellent learning curve as they made the step up.

Fraser Forster’s return to action helped Saints’ youngsters beat Chelsea in the Under-21 Premier League Cup, but any hopes of retaining the trophy were ended when Huddersfield won 2-0 at St Mary’s in late January.

Draws against Reading and Chelsea in February, followed by a narrow defeat at Leicester City, marked the start of the revival for Hunter’s side.

A 3-1 victory at Middlesbrough was followed by an excellent 5-0 win at Liverpool, in which Jay Rodriguez netted a hat-trick, before a 2-2 draw at Sunderland.

Two home games brought the season to a close, and two wins meant Saints ended the season with four wins from their final five.

Josh Sims’s 90th-minute winner saw Norwich City beaten 3-2 at Staplewood, before an excellent 2-1 win against champions Manchester United brought the curtain down on another positive campaign.

Ryan Seager, who suffered a long-term injury after joining Crewe Alexandra on loan, finished the season as top scorer with seven, while Jake Hesketh grabbed six throughout the campaign.

In total, 41 players featured for Hunter's men throughout the season, including 14 who were still eligible for Craig Fleming's Under-18s.

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