U23 Report: Saints 2-1 Norwich

By SFC Media time Mon 12 Mar Saints v Norwich
Photo by James Bridle | Nathan Tella
Mon 12 Mar 7PM
Premier League 2 - Division 2
Norwich City
Obafemi [1' 90']
Phillips [78']
O'Driscoll [73'] O'Connor [78']
yellow card
Thomas [12'] Phillips [35'] Aarons [50'] Mourgos [80']
red card
Odusina [46']
Referee: Samuel Allison | Venue: Staplewood Campus | Attendance: 80

Michael Obafemi scored in the first and last minute to secure a deserved victory for Southampton Under-23s over their Norwich counterparts.

The striker’s first goal, a poacher’s effort after 13 seconds, looked like being enough against ten-man Norwich until Adam Phillips brilliantly curled home a 25-yard free kick 12 minutes from time.

By this point, the visitors had lost Oluwartimi Odusina to a red card following the half-time whistle, and had goalkeeper Aston Oxborough to thank for saving a Jake Hesketh penalty.

But just as the young Saints looked like being left frustrated, Obafemi was in the right place to sweep home from a last-gasp corner.

Radhi Jaïdi’s side made the best possible start, making the breakthrough from the game’s very first attack, as Nathan Tella accelerated down the right and crossed low towards Hesketh, whose touch just got away from him.

But as a Norwich defender nicked the ball off his toe, it fell invitingly for Obafemi to steer into the net from six yards.

Norwich needed to regain their composure and did well to play their way into the contest, as right-back Jordan Thomas drove a shot wide in an attempt to redress the balance.

20180312 Southampton FC v Norwich City FC
Oluwartimi Odusina saw red after the half-time whistle was blown at Staplewood

But Saints were the sharper unit. Obafemi demonstrated another example of the hosts’ intensity by dispossessing Owen Wallis deep in Norwich territory and striding into the box, only to drag his left-footed shot wide of the near post.

A similar incident then resulted in a painful collision at the other end, as Tristan Abrahams charged down a clearance from Aaron O’Driscoll and met Saints keeper Jack Rose head-on. After extensive treatment, both players were fit to continue.

In terms of shots on target, Rose remained untested, if a little bruised. That remained the case even after Norwich were awarded a free-kick on the 18-yard line, from which Savvas Mourgos sent his shot just over.

The explosive start had given way to a first period lacking clear chances, but Saints nearly finished the half the way they started it with another goal.

Hesketh escaped down the right and crossed just beyond Obafemi for the onrushing Tella, but the winger was just beaten to it by the covering Thomas, who cleared crucially.

Instead there was drama after the whistle. With the first half already having drawn to a close, referee Samuel Allison was wielding his red card to dismiss Odusina for allegedly spitting at Hesketh.

The action resumed with Kingsley Latham protecting the clean sheet that Rose had thus far preserved, with the starting keeper unable to continue following the earlier clash with Abrahams.

Saints created the first notable opportunity of the second half as the hour mark approached. Hesketh picked up the loose ball after Mourgos’s blocked shot left Norwich exposed.

Carrying the ball deep into visiting territory, Hesketh ignored Obafemi and instead fed Tella to his left, who blazed over with the chance to double the lead.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MARCH 12: Michael Obafemi score during the PL2 match between Southampton FC and Norwich City FC at Staplewood Training Ground on March 12, 2018 in Southampton, England. (Photo by James Bridle - Southampton FC/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Michael Obafemi did the damage in the first and last minute for the young Saints

Hesketh himself was guilty of passing up an even better chance soon after. Goalkeeper Oxborough underestimated the pace of Obafemi, who caught the keeper in possession before Tella was tripped by Norwich captain Maximillian Aarons.

Up stepped Hesketh, but Oxborough guessed right to redeem himself and make an important save to keep the ten men in the game.

Latham had been a virtual spectator at the other end, but was scampering across his goal as Devonte Aransibia fired a warning shot from 20 yards that flashed narrowly wide and reminded Saints the job was not yet done.

Substitute Olufela Olomola came close to killing off the Canaries once and for all, shooting wide on the turn, before Little supplied the sucker punch.

Striking the dead ball from 25 yards, the midfielder curled a stunning strike into the top corner to beat Latham high to his left.

Norwich thought they had completed an unlikely comeback in the closing stages, only for Abrahams’s tap-in to be ruled out for offside, before Obafemi struck the winner.

Still the drama was not over, as Norwich went for goal straight from kick-off and hit the crossbar, sparing the blushes of substitute Latham and ensuring two-goal Obafemi was the match-winner.

Line ups not available

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