Fleming reflects on "difficult" night for Saints

By SFC Media Tue 16 Jan Blackpool v Saints
Photo by James Bridle: Craig Fleming

Southampton U18 coach Craig Fleming was in philosophical mood when reflecting on his team's FA Youth Cup exit to Blackpool at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday night.

While all involved with in the young Saints camp will be disappointed with the nature of the 4-2 defeat on penalties after the game had finished 1-1 in normal time, Fleming chose to focus at the long-term lessons to be learned from his team.

Speaking after the final whistle, he said, "We’re here to develop these players for the future so even bad results are good experiences for them.

"The boys that were brave enough to take a penalty deserve credit whether they scored or not. They’ve been superb this season, we’ve beaten City and Chelsea and we’re in the top four."

Christoph Klarer's 18th-minute strike looked to have set Saints on their way only for Finlay Sinclair-Smith to force extra-time with a second-half equaliser.

Missed chances for Harlem Hale and Jonathan Afolabi and a shot off the upright from Will Smallbone however just before half-time perhaps ought to have led to a different scoreline.

"We didn’t play to our usual standard but still created plenty of chances to win the game, particularly in the first half. The conditions were difficult and Blackpool were very organised and hard-working.

"We conceded a poor goal and the guys that have really performed for us this term didn’t quite reach their usual heights tonight. We hung in there and managed to take it through to penalties and at that point, it's a matter of luck."

"There are some excellent players in that dressing room and I wouldn’t want this single result to take anything away from them."

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