U23 Report: Saints 1-3 Arsenal

By SFC Media Mon 16 Jan Saints U23 vs Arsenal U23
Photo by Naomi Baker | Tyreke Johnson at full time
Mon 16 Jan 7PM
Premier League 2 - Division 2
Southampton
1
Arsenal
3
Afolabi [41']
Mavididi [59'] Nketiah [79'] Willock [83']
Venue: Staplewood Campus | Attendance: 0

Jonathan Afolabi scored on his first start for the Under-23s, but the hosts were beaten 3-1 by Arsenal in Premier League 2 action at Staplewood Campus.

Saints edged the first half and took a deserved lead before half time through Afolabi, who produced a clinical finish on the volley inside the area.

But the Gunners hit back three times in the second half with some good finishes of their own, as Stephy Mavididi, substitute Eddie Nketiah, and Chris Willock all struck. 

A young Saints team was spearheaded by scholar Afolabi, who was flanked in attack by Tyreke Johnson and Lloyd Isgrove.

Johnson tried to force the first opening in the fifth minute when he took on the Arsenal backline after dispossessing Krystian Bielik, but couldn’t quite get his shot on target from an acute angle.

Saints had the better of the early openings, with Isgrove also going close when he latched on to Thomas O’Connor’s long pass before hitting a low shot which was deflected narrowly wide.

Thomas O'Connor in action for Saints


At the other end, Arsenal saw plenty of the ball, with Reiss Nelson frequently involved during the opening exchanges.

He had the Gunners’ first attempt on goal in the 19th minute when he played a one-two with Stephy Mavididi and then curled a shot towards goal, but Adam Parkes got down to save it on his left side.

Parkes was called upon again when Ben Sheaf curled a free-kick around the wall, which the goalkeeper got across well to, as he pushed the ball away at the right post.

Saints then upped the ante though, and had the ball in the net on 36 minutes when Arsenal striker Chuba Akpom inadvertently headed through his own net, but the match official disallowed the goal for a foul.

Soon after, Slattery teed up Jake Vokins for a rasping effort from the edge of the area, which Arsenal ‘keeper Hugo Keto had to push away, but from the resulting corner, the hosts opened the scoring.

It arrived when a nod down from Florin Gardos fell invitingly for Afolabi inside the area, and he produced an unerring finish on the volley, which flew in via a deflection to give Saints the lead.

Jonathan Afolabi put Saints in front


That advantage was held until half time which the hosts had deserved on the balance of play.

Arsenal applied the pressure at the start of the second 45 and drew a half chance when captain Krystian Bielik headed an awkward chance behind him towards goal, but it was comfortable for Adam Parkes.

They went even closer when Ainsley Maitland-Niles picked out Chris Willock whose shot hit the base of the post, but the equaliser would eventually follow just before the hour.

It came from Mavididi on 59 minutes when he got the ball on the right side of the area, and arrowed a low finish into the bottom left corner.

Saints responded by bringing on Ryan Seager in place of Afolabi, but Arsenal remained rampant, with Mavididi charging forward before running out of space to get a shot in from a tight angle.

Slattery had Saints’ first real chance of the half on 69 minutes when he struck a free-kick from the left side of the area which almost dipped in at the far post, but Keto did enough to push the ball out for a corner.

Willock tested Parkes after a mazy run on the left, which the Saints stopper was equal to, but Arsenal swung the match in their favour when substitute Eddie Nketiah on for Akpom, beat the onrushing Parkes to a loose ball outside of the area, and rolled in for 2-1.

Saints sought an instant response when Gardos flicked a header narrowly wide, but the Gunners sealed their win on 83 minutes when Willock broke into the box and curled a low shot beyond Parkes to wrap it up.


Southampton

1
Adam Parkes (GK)
2
Yan Valery
3
Jake Vokins
4
Armani Little
5
Florin Gardos
6
Alfie Jones (C)
7
Lloyd Isgrove
8
Thomas O'Connor
9
Jonathan Afolabi
Ryan Seager (62′)
10
Callum Slattery
11
Tyreke Johnson
13
Alex Cull
12
Ollie Cook
14
Will Wood
15
Harley Willard
16
Ryan Seager

Arsenal

1
Hugo Keto (GK)
2
Chori Johnson
3
Cohen Brammall
Josh Da Silva (84′)
4
Ainsley Maitland-Niles
5
Ben Sheaf
6
Krystian Bielik (C)
7
Reiss Nelson
8
Jeff Reine-Adelaide
9
Chuba Akpom
Eddie Nketiah (77′)
10
Stephy Mavididi
11
Chris Willock
13
Joao Virginia
12
Gedion Zelalem
14
Eddie Nketiah
15
Vlad Dragomir
16
Josh Da Silva
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