U23 Report: Saints 3-2 West Brom

By SFC Media Mon 05 Feb Saints v West Brom
Photo by Matt Watson | Sam McQueen
Mon 05 Feb 7PM
Premier League 2 - Division 2
Southampton
3
West Bromwich Albion
2
Johnson [8'] McQueen [18'] O'Driscoll [62']
Ferguson [13'] Morton [pen 68']
O'Driscoll [36'] Jones [81']
Field [52']
Venue: Staplewood Campus | Attendance: 60

Southampton produced a second five goal thriller in the space of three days, with the club's youngsters battling to the exact same scoreline that earned their senior side three precious points at the Hawthorns on Saturday.

Tyreke Johnson had the home side on the front foot inside eights minutes, with further strikes coming courtesy of defensive pairing Sam McQueen and Aaron O'Driscoll.

It is back-to-back wins for Radhi Jaïdi's Under-23s, after last week's triumph over Stoke, which has lifted their league position considerably, and will serve as ample confidence boost heading in to Friday's Premier League Cup clash with Cardiff.

17-year-old striker Michael Obafemi, still buoyed by his first-team debut a few weeks prior, was close to a blistering start for the home side.

Jake Hesketh released Johnson down the left, as the ball was rolled invitingly across the six yard line, where Obafemi miscued his kick. Undeterred, Saints continued their early assault, and made the next attack count.

Josh Sims outpaced his defender, typically so, before finding Johnson's late back post run. The aforementioned had the easiest of finishes, but the creativity must be accredited to Sims, who continued to impress with his energy and drive down the right. The combination play was effective, and the finish deadly, as Saints edged in front in the eighth minute.

A lively start, the hosts were soon to be pegged back, forced to accept punishment for a defensive lapse. Callum Morton whipped a curling free-kick in to the danger area, where Nathan Ferguson rose highest, turning his header in off the crossbar - a mere five minutes after the game's opener.

And as quickly as West Brom were level, Jaïdi's side had again turned on the style, recapturing the lead courtesy of a piece of solo quality from McQueen.

A fulminating drive from 25 yards, the full-back found the net with an expertly taken free-kick - the power and swerve enough to send the ball flashing past an unsighted Alex Palmer.

Saints continued to press and harass, keen to profit further from their momentum. Hesketh's awareness typified Saints' willingness to get forward, as he dispatched the pass of the half in the 32nd minute.

Incisive, accurate, and searching all in one, the midfielder's ball was inch-perfect for Sims to latch on to in full stride, but attempting to cut inside on his favoured left foot, the winger gave West Brom's retreating defenders the chance to close down.

The architect once more two minutes from the interval, Hesketh teed up McQueen, whose shot required diversion from an outstretched Albion boot.

Eventual goalscorer, Morton was the first to test Jack Rose after the restart, with an effort from range, which the Saints stopper gathered, before Jonathan Leko's jinxing run necessitated a weighty tackle from O'Driscoll.

Obafemi probed in the 51st minute, after some clever footwork from the tireless Johnson. The teenage striker proceeded to hit the post in the aftermath, as the home side continued to look dangerous, before McQueen's skill forced a bashful Sam Field to cynically foul, and enter the referee's book.

Saints' dominance was converted in to a deserved goal just after the hour mark, as a grateful O'Driscoll, unmarked at the back post, capitalised on the visitor's failure to clear a corner.

Seemingly comfortable, Saints were architects of their own downfall soon after, undoing a spell of lucrative pressure by conceding a penalty. Morton was the beneficiary, winning the opportunity to go one on one with Rose, before sending the 'keeper the wrong way and reducing the deficit once more.

Johnson thought he'd sealed it seven minutes from time, sending the ball crashing off the underside of the upright, but it wasn't to be, as Saints narrowly edged yet another five goal thriller against West Brom - replicating the senior scoreline from the Hawthorns at the weekend.

Southampton

1
Jack Rose (GK)
2
Yan Valery
3
Sam McQueen
4
Ben Rowthorn
5
Alfie Jones (C)
6
Aaron O'Driscoll
7
Josh Sims
8
Callum Slattery
9
Michael Obafemi
10
Jake Hesketh
11
Tyreke Johnson
12
Will Wood
13
Kingsley Latham
14
Harry Hamblin
15
Nathan Tella
16
Olufela Olomola

West Brom

1
Alex Palmer (GK)
2
Dan Meredith
3
Robbie McCourt
4
Rekeem Harper
5
Nathan Ferguson
6
Kyle Jameson (C)
7
Jonathan Leko
8
Sam Field
9
Callum Morton
10
Finn Azaz
Alex Bradley (55′)
11
Nick Clayton-Phillips
Evan Pierce (80′)
12
Evan Pierce
13
Ben Pierce
14
Zak Brown
15
Aram Soleman
16
Alex Bradley
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