U18 Report: Saints 0-1 Arsenal

By SFC Media time Wed 18 Apr Saints v Arsenal
Photo by James Bridle | Enzo Robise
Wed 18 Apr 1PM
U18 Premier League
Southampton
0
Arsenal
1
goal
Smith [60']
Klarer [32']
yellow card
Dennis [75']
Venue: Staplewood Campus | Attendance: 0

A frustrating day for Southampton's youngsters ended in narrow defeat by Arsenal at Staplewood Campus.

A 'snatch and grab' style victory, Gunners midfielder Matthew Smith secured the three points by virtue of a second half penalty kick, after Jonathan Afolabi had squandered his chance from 12 yards in the first period.

Saints dominated throughout, but couldn't beat Daniel Barden in the Arsenal upright, who pulled off a string of outstanding saves to preserves his side's clean sheet.

With a chance to leapfrog their opposition, Saints were on the front foot from the first whistle, hoping to capitalise on some early momentum.

Afolabi volleyed over in the twelfth minute, a presentable chance, before Sean Brennan latched on to Kayne Ramsay's fizzed pass, but blasted wide.

The hosts were moving the ball confidently, with slick interchanges leaving Arsenal to chase in midfield, and creating space in behind.

Enzo Robise was the beneficiary in the 22nd minute, well spotted by Jake Vokins, but in-form Barden stood tall to save with his legs, denying Saints a clear opening. 

A breakthrough seemed imminent as Will Smallbone fired wide midway through the half, before a melee of chances fell the way of the home side.

Robise had an effort saved off the line, but with the ball still alive, the winger was clumsily fouled in the box. Afolabi took on penalty duty, but was rebuffed, as Barden guessed correctly and palmed to safety. An expensive miss.

Moments later, Saints were on the attack with Obafemi, who negotiated a tackle before firing low, but Arsenal's standout player, Barden, continued to keep Saints at bay. Frustrated, Craig Fleming's side were forced to accept half time parity.

Undeterred, Saints flew out the traps at the restart. Obafemi bent his run cleverly, evaded the offside trap, but couldn't beat Barden, who looked formidable in between the sticks. Again, Saints pressurised in the 50th minute, Afolabi with a glancing header this time, but somehow the Gunners stopper remained resolute.

And that precipitated the killer blow. Another spot kick, this time the way of the visitors, was converted by Smith on the hour mark, and gave the young Guns some impetus.

Substitute Stan Flaherty could have sealed it late on, before Dan Bartlett wasted yet another chance for Saints, volleying wide after the latest passage of attractive build up play, as the hosts were forced to rue opportunities missed.

 The scoreline was harsh on Saints' youngsters, but nevertheless meant the Londoners left with maximum spoils, all but securing second spot in the Under-18s Premier League.

Southampton

1
Adam Parkes (GK)
2
Kayne Ramsay
3
Jake Vokins
4
Harry Hamblin
5
Jamie Bradley-Green
6
Christoph Klarer (C) yellow card
7
Michael Obafemi
8
Sean Brennan
replace Dan Bartlett (70′)
9
Jonathan Afolabi
10
Will Smallbone
11
Enzo Robise
replace Harrison Davis (70′)
12
Harrison Davis
13
Alex Cull
14
Kameron Ledwidge
15
Dan Bartlett
16
Christian Norton

Arsenal

1
Daniel Barden (GK)
2
Matty Dennis yellow card
3
Tobi Omole (C)
4
Matthew Smith goal
5
Harrison Clarke
6
Bayli Spencer-Adams
7
Ben Cotterill
replace Stan Flaherty (65′)
8
Miguel Azeez
9
Trae Coyle
10
Jordan McEneff
11
Armstrong Okoflex
replace Josh Martin (73′)
12
Stan Flaherty
13
Tom Smith
14
Josh Martin
15
Alfie Matthews
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