U18 Report: Saints 3-1 West Ham

By SFC Media Sat 06 Jan Saints v West Ham
Photo by James Bridle | Harlem Hale
Sat 06 Jan 11AM
U18 Premier League
Southampton
3
West Ham
1
Obafemi [19'] Hale [47'] Afolabi [65']
El Mhassani [6']
Hamblin [30']
Belic [42']
Referee: Robert Wainwright | Venue: Staplewood Campus | Attendance: 0

Southampton's youngsters made a winning start to the New Year, after overturning an early deficit to emerge convincing victors, as the Under-18s Premier League resumed its fixture schedule after the festive break.

Both sides were reduced to ten men, after two first-half dismissals, while goals from attacking trio Michael Obafemi, Harlem Hale and Jonathan Afolabi earned the three points.

The win extends Saints' recent purple patch, who will make the trip north to Blackpool in a confident mood, as attention now turns to the next round of the FA Youth Cup.

Disappointingly, the teenage Saints found themselves behind in the sixth minute, as an unstoppable free-kick was whipped goalward by Anouar El Mhassani. Left of centre, the shot curled neatly in to the top corner, with Alex Cull helpless, and the visitors gaining an early advantage.

Eager for a quick response, the home side were immediately down the other end, fashioning a goalscoring chance of their own. Afolabi outmuscled his opposition defender, before spotting the back post run of Hale, who applied too much contact to the finish and sent the ball sailing over the bar.

But parity was restored in the 19th minute, and deservedly so. Obafemi, astute as ever, latched on to a long ball before cleverly rounding both 'keeper and last defender. With the goal gaping, the striker calmly rolled the ball in to an empty net, drawing Saints level.

Yet as quickly as the hosts had levelled the tie, Craig Fleming's side suffered another setback. Harry Hamblin lunged in to a late tackle, and received a straight red for his misjudgement. Perhaps harshly, Saints were forced to play the remaining hour with a man less.

Undeterred by the dismissal, the home side were straight on the front foot. Some ingenious wide play from Afolabi gifted a chance for Javen Siu, who beat Rihards Matrevics, but couldn't evade the outstretched leg of covering midfielder Kristijan Belic.

A lively first-half was concluded by a second dismissal, this time for West Ham's Belic - whose goalline heroics had prevented Saints taking the lead seconds prior. The midfielder received successive cautions, culminating in a red card, for a series of unfortunately timed challenges.

Michael Obafemi celebrates netting Saints' equaliser and his twelfth of the season

In a bid to match the first-half drama, barely two minutes had elapsed before Saints were in front. Hale capitalised on a goalkeeping error, after Jake Vokins had done the leg work, side-footing in to the far corner and leaving Matrevics stranded.

Christoph Klarer went close moments later, crashing an effort off the crossbar from a Vokins corner, as the home side began to assert their dominance. And the scoreline soon reflected Saints' governance.

Afolabi was the beneficiary, as the home side put a two goal cushion between themselves and the young Hammers. Will Smallbone's pinpoint cross was dispatched by the wideman, who out jumped Ashby at the back post and powered his header home.

Substitute Enzo Robise struck an assertive free-kick off the upright minutes from time, in the hope of opening his club account. Inches away from a fourth, the effort fell fortuitously to Matrevics, who inadvertently flapped at the ball to clear the danger.

Southampton were deserving of the three points though, in an encounter where the referee's - somewhat rash - decisions dictated the talking points, but the home side delivered a mature performance to warrant the win and maximum spoils.

Southampton

1
Alex Cull (GK)
2
Kayne Ramsay
3
Jake Vokins
4
Harry Hamblin
5
Oliver Gardner
6
Christoph Klarer (C)
7
Harlem Hale
8
Will Smallbone
9
Michael Obafemi
Enzo Robise (80′)
10
Javen Siu
11
Jonathan Afolabi
12
Kornelius Hansen
13
Adam Parkes
14
Enzo Robise
15
Christian Norton
16
Sean Brennan

West Ham

1
Rihards Matrevics (GK)
2
Harrison Ashby
3
Reece Hannam
4
Jay Mingi
5
Josh Ohotcha
6
Ben Wells
7
Anouar El Mhassani
Keevam Felson (80′)
8
Kristijan Belic
9
Sean Adarkwa
Veron Parks (70′)
10
Manny Longelo
Kevin Dalipi (75′)
11
Rosaire Longelo
12
Kevin Dalipi
13
Josh Roashi
14
Keevam Felson
15
Malyk Hamilton
16
Veron Parks
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