U23s Report: Saints 0-1 Brighton

By SFC Media Mon 30 Oct Saints v Brighton
Photo by James Bridle | Saints vs Brighton
Mon 30 Oct 7PM
Premier League 2 - Division 2
Southampton
0
Brighton & Hove Albion
1
Connolly [55']
Højbjerg [44'] Hesketh [52'] McQueen [90']
Bednarek [14']
Referee: Richard Hulme | Venue: Staplewood Campus | Attendance: 100

Saints' youngsters were narrowly beaten at Staplewood, as a decisive second-half strike from Brighton teenager Aaron Connolly secured the three points on offer in Premier League 2.

The home side were disadvantaged early on, when Jan Bednarek saw red for a last ditch tackle, and a succession of late chances went begging for Saints, with Sam McQueen unlucky to be twice denied.

A man down, the hosts navigated the first-half well, despite suffering an early setback when Bednarek was shown an untimely red card in the 14th minute.

The centre-half was adjudged to have illegally obstructed the run of Soufyan Ahannach as the Dutchman charged towards Alex McCarthy's goal, and the referee elected to contentiously dismiss the Polish defender, where perhaps a caution would have been just punishment.

The visitors, watched by first-team manager Chris Hughton, were getting joy in the wide areas, as fullback pairing George Cox and Ales Mateju were invited forward by midfield architect Beram Kayal.

Taking advantage of the extra man, Brighton enjoyed much of the first-half possession, with Connor Goldson blasting over from eight yards in the 18th minute and Henrik Bjordal with a second identical chance to edge the visitors in front moments later.

The Norwegian's shot was charged down by a dogged Saints rearguard, who were forced to reshuffle after the sending off, with captain Alfie Jones filling the void in the backline.

Set-piece specialist James Tilley tested McCarthy from a free-kick midway through the half, but the 'keeper was equal to it, parrying to his right, before a brief spell of Saints pressure gifted McQueen a rare opportunity at the opposing end.

Deployed in a more attaching role, the winger was well found by lone target man Jonathan Afolabi, before unleashing a shot at a comfortable height for Nikki Manepaa, who duly palmed to safety.

Deadlock at the break, McCarthy had to be alert as the two side's reemerged, saving from Tilley, who tried his luck from distance, before Saints' gritty resistance was shattered by substitute Connolly.

Introduced at the interval, the Irishman pounced upon a bouncing ball in the area, before lashing home ruthlessly, to make good on Brighton's dominance. Max Sanders asked further questions of McCarthy's credentials on the hour mark, to which the ex-Crystal Palace stopper found adequate response.

Hampered by the first-half sending off, Saints were unable to penetrate an organised Seagulls outfit, who used the benefit of an extra man to dictate possession throughout.

Saints' liveliest threat McQueen attempted to rescue a point in the closing stages, after teasing an effort wide, before calling Manepaa in to action, but couldn't make the necessary breakthrough.

Southampton

1
Alex McCarthy (GK)
2
Yan Valery
Tyreke Johnson (79′)
3
Matt Targett
4
Alfie Jones (C)
5
Jan Bednarek
6
Jack Stephens
7
Marcus Barnes
Nathan Tella (70′)
8
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg
9
Jonathan Afolabi
10
Jake Hesketh
Callum Slattery (70′)
11
Sam McQueen
12
Ollie Cook
13
Jack Rose
14
Callum Slattery
15
Tyreke Johnson
16
Nathan Tella

Brighton

1
Nikki Manepaa (GK)
2
Ales Mateju
3
George Cox
4
Uwe Hunemeier
5
Connor Goldson
6
Jayson Molumby
7
Beram Kayal
8
Henrik Bjordal
Will Collar (61′)
9
Steven Alzate
Aaron Connolly (45′)
10
James Tilley
11
Soufyan Ahannach
12
Tom Dallison
13
Billy Collings
14
Max Sanders
15
Will Collar
16
Aaron Connolly
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