U23 Report: Boro 1-2 Saints

By SFC Media time Sun 13 Jan Boro v Saints
Photo by James Bridle
Sun 13 Jan 1PM
Premier League 2 - Division 2
Middlesbrough
1
Southampton
2
Liddle [10']
goal
Afolabi [63'] Johnson [78']
James (77')
yellow card
Referee: Daniel Middleton | Venue: Heritage Park | Attendance: 149

Southampton's youngsters continued their bright start to 2019 after backing up last week's win over Stoke with victory over Middlesbrough at Heritage Park.

The visitors were forced to come from behind, conceding inside the opening ten minutes, when Ben Liddle curled a free-kick beyond Alex Cull to give Boro an early lead.

But a second-half comeback was spearheaded by forward pairing Jonathan Afolabi and Tyreke Johnson - the former owning much to the fine work of Marcus Barnes, before Johnson successfully won and despatched a penalty twelve minutes from time.

The three points are a welcome boost to Saints' hunt for Premier League 2 promotion this term, lifting them level with Reading, and means Radhi Jaïdi's youngsters are now on a four-game winning streak, ahead of another trip north to face Leeds next week.

Middlesbrough started the brighter and created a multitude of chances before claiming the lead in the ninth minute.

Captain Liddle was on dead ball duty, positioning it 20 yards from goal, right of centre. He struck the effort well, with enough pace to beat the wall and enough dip to see it nestle in the near corner. Young keeper Cull got a hand to it, but wasn't able to prevent Saints conceding the opener.

The visitors were immediately on the attack moments later, though, Jake Vokins motoring down the left, and lifting the ball into the path of Johnson, who's lobbed effort was just wide of the mark.

A busy opening, Cull was again called into action in the 20th minute, clawing away Patrick Reading's long range drive, which was tipped onto the post, before full-back Hayden Coulson was too thwarted - Cull again pushing his low shot onto the upright.

Saints were riding their luck, and the conditions weren't helping, with the wind meaning the ball was lingering in the air longer than intended.

The half came to a close with the visitors in yellow and blue increasingly frustrated by a lack of opportunity, but with the knowledge that they'd get the benefit of the wind second half. And, after a brief interval, emerged second half a different team - matching Boro in midfield and creating plenty of threat of their own.

Their best passage of play was orchestrated by Barnes, on his return to the Under-23s setup, who collected the ball from Harry Hamblin, before beating his man down the right and teeing up Afolabi for a first-time finish just after the hour mark.

The striker duly found the bottom corner, restoring parity, and giving the visitors belief that there was life in the game yet.

And there was better news to follow when Johnson was upended in the box in the 77th minute. The winger opted to take the spot-kick himself, despatching below Boro stopper Brad James, and completing a hard-fought second-half turnaround.

Maximum spoils were enough to keep pace with league leaders Reading in Premier League 2, who maintain top spot by virtue of goal difference.

Middlesbrough

Head to Head Stats

Southampton
  • Possession (%)
    56
    comparison angle
    44
  • Shots
    12
    comparison angle
    8
  • Shots on target
    3
    comparison angle
    2
  • Corners
    5
    comparison angle
    7
  • Passes Complete
    191
    comparison angle
    147

Middlesbrough PL2

1
Bradley James (GK) yellow card
3
Patrick Reading
2
Djed Spence
6
Nathan Dale
5
Nathan Wood
11
Hayden Coulson
4
Ben Liddle (C) goal
10
Amadou Sylla
8
Dan Ward
7
Connor Malley
replace Hayden Hackney (80′)
9
Stephen Walker
21
Solomon Brynn
15
Bilal Brahimi
14
Hayden Hackney
16
Tyrone O'Neill

Southampton PL2

1
Alex Cull (GK)
5
Aaron O'Driscoll
4
Thomas O'Connor (C)
6
Alfie Jones
2
Oludare Olufunwa
10
William Smallbone
8
Harry Hamblin
3
Jake Vokins
7
Marcus Barnes
replace Enzo Robise (86′)
9
Jonathan Afolabi goal
11
Tyreke Johnson goal
13
Adam Parkes
14
Alexandre Jankewitz
12
Christoph Klarer
16
Nathan Tella
15
Enzo Robise
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