U23 Report: Saints 2-1 Fulham

By SFC Media time Fri 15 Feb Saints v Fulham
Photo by James Bridle
Fri 15 Feb 7PM
Premier League 2 - Division 2
Southampton
2
Fulham
1
Smallbone [38'] Afolabi [50']
goal
Harris [79']
Referee: Savvas Yianni | Venue: Staplewood Campus | Attendance: 126

Southampton's youngsters extended their lead at the top of Premier League 2 with a 2-1 success over Fulham at Staplewood Campus.

A goal either side of the break earned maximum spoils; Will Smallbone broke the deadlock with a stunning first-time strike from range, before Jonathan Afolabi added to his mounting goal tally in the second period.

The matchwinner last time out in the league against Manchester United, Afolabi looped a fine effort over Luca Ashby-Hammond five minutes after the restart, giving Saints some breathing room.

Nathan Tella, unlucky not to get on the scoresheet himself, had a hand in the build up to both goals, and could have put Saints out of sight before Fulham netted a lifeline 10 minutes from time.

Jayden Harris glanced a header past Fraser Forster, who returned to action for the first time this season, but the home side dug deep and saw out the remainder of the tie comfortably. 

Tonight's points mean Radhi Jaïdi's side remain three clear of nearest rivals Wolves at the top, who were themselves 4-0 victors over Norwich during their respective league encounter.

The game actually swung in the visitors' favour early on, but it wasn't long before the rejuvenated young Saints were threatening at the opposite end.

Will Ferry, full of industry and running, fashioned the first presentable chance with a solo run in the 14th minute, moments after Afolabi had got in behind. The winger beat two defenders before striking from an angle, but Ashby-Hammond's reaction save denied him an opener.

Afolabi hit the post before Saints made their possessional dominance pay in the 38th minute, with a strike worthy of a 'goal of the season' nomination from Smallbone. The midfielder was teed up by Tella, and letting the ball roll across his body, put the laces of his right boot through the shot and watched it nestle sweetly in the top right.

Controlling the tie, the hosts took their narrow lead into the break, before Afolabi was in on the action in the 51st minute, latching onto Ferry's cross from the left and diverting the ball over Ashby-Hammond, who was curiously off his line.

The finish was smart (whether he meant it or not), and gave Saints the cushion they needed to get forward with more freedom. They continued to create chances, without putting further dent in the scoreline, before allowing the Cottagers an opportunity to reduce arrears.

A rare Fulham attack, full-back Cody Drameh had advanced well down the left, standing a ball up centrally for Harris to accurately head into the far corner, leaving Forster slim chance of preventing the goal.

With a lead to protect, Saints played on the counter thereafter, taking opportunities to get forward where possible, but remaining compact at the back. Substitute Dan N'Lundulu was happy to carry Saints up the pitch in the latter stages, assisted by Tella, who for all his effort, deserved a goal for himself.

It wasn't to be, but his influence, among others (particularly Smallbone), did indeed mean that Saints claimed all three points and a crucial win in the race for promotion this season.

Southampton

Head to Head Stats

Fulham
  • Possession (%)
    36
    comparison angle
    64
  • Shots
    15
    comparison angle
    8
  • Shots on target
    5
    comparison angle
    3
  • Corners
    5
    comparison angle
    11
  • Passes Complete
    209
    comparison angle
    410

Southampton PL2

1
Fraser Forster (GK)
4
Thomas O'Connor
6
Christoph Klarer
5
Aaron O'Driscoll
8
Harry Hamblin
2
Oludare Olufunwa
3
Tyreke Johnson
10
William Smallbone (C) goal
11
Will Ferry
replace Kameron Ledwidge (87′)
9
Jonathan Afolabi goal
replace Daniel N'Lundulu (64′)
7
Nathan Tella
replace Allan Tchaptchet (93′)
16
Daniel N'Lundulu
13
Alex Cull
12
Allan Tchaptchet
15
Caleb Watts
14
Kameron Ledwidge

Fulham PL2

1
Luca Ashby-Hammond (GK)
6
Jerome Opoku
3
Cody Drameh
2
Steven Sessegnon
5
Moritz Jenz
10
Matt O'Riley
4
Fabio Carvalho
replace Christopher Kelly (76′)
7
Harvey Elliott
8
Tyrese Francois (C)
11
Jayden Harris goal
9
Nicolas Santos-Clase
12
George Wickens
14
Christopher Kelly
16
Zico Asare
15
Sylvester Jasper
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