U18 Report: Saints 1-3 Arsenal

By SFC Media Sat 23 Feb Saints v Arsenal
Photo by James Bridle | Will Ferry
Sat 23 Feb 11.30AM
U18 Premier League
Southampton
1
Arsenal
3
Caleb Watts [53']
Trae Coyle [15'] Folarin Balogun [32'] Mark McGuinness [82']
Christian Norton [76']
Tom Smith [73']. Harry Clarke [79']
Venue: Staplewood Campus | Attendance: 0

Southampton's youngsters were eased out by visiting Arsenal in the Under-18s Premier League on Saturday morning, despite a valiant second-half fightback.

It was a difficult start to the tie for the hosts, who were under concerted pressure for large parts of the first period at a sunbathed Staplewood Campus, but looked much more menacing after the interval.

The visitors had raced into a two-goal lead by half-time, with goals from Trae Coyle and Folarin Balogun, but Caleb Watts had deservedly halved the deficit five minutes after the restart.

A handful more chances were squandered by the hosts, who dominated large parts of the second 45 but weren't able to make further dent in the scoreline, before a hammer blow from defender Mark McGuinness sealed the points.

Arsenal's opener was teed up by winger Sam Greenwood, who had advanced well down the right and hooked a low cross towards Coyle, which rolled under the foot of Tyreece John-Jules, almost acting as a dummy, and then side-footed home.

The second came just after Saints had tried their luck at the opposite end, where Will Ferry's drive was blocked, but followed in by Ethan Burnett, whose half-volleyed shot was wayward.

There was little room for error against the table toppers, who were pressing high and playing with plenty of confidence, as Saints got caught at the back, allowing Balogun to capitalise in the 32nd minute.

John-Jules was involved again, winning the ball high, before providing his forward partner with the chance to sneak the ball inside Jack Bycroft's near post.

James Morris had the chance to reduce arrears before the interval after superb wide play from Ferry, who picked out the unmarked run of the full-back at the far post, but he wasn't able to steer his effort on target.

Kornelius Hansen's ambitious acrobatics goes close to drawing Saints level 

Bycroft was twice called into action just after the restart, opting to save both with his legs, and did so effectively. It seemed to spark Saints into life.

A quick throw was taken by Kornelius Hansen just over the halfway line in the 52nd minute, and was carried forward by Benni Smales-Braithwaite. He squared to midfielder Watts, who gave keeper Tom Smith the eyes before rolling calmly beneath him.

And with the bit between their teeth, the youngsters in red and white were suddenly playing with more assurance and freedom. A lovely passage of play, with Ferry at the heart of it, gave Hansen the chance to draw level in the 68th, as he latched onto the former Bury man's diagonal pass, but the shot on the volley was a difficult one to execute.

Saints were becoming more and more effective in possession, but it was a simple long ball from Bycroft that caused further issue for Arsenal 15 minutes from time. Substitute Norton had motored free, and beaten the young Guns' offside trap, forcing a rather desperate challenge from Smith - who received a fortunate yellow card for his troubles.

Hansen took the resulting free-kick, which spiralled harmlessly off the wall. They continued to pressurise, though, and it was the home side asking all the questions. Hansen, much more of a threat in the second half, attempted an acrobatic effort when found lurking at the back post by Ferry, but it flew marginally off target.

The sucker punch arrived eight minutes from the final whistle, and just as Saints looked at their most dangerous. Defender McGuinness was the beneficiary; his close range finish nestling low in the bottom left to secure maximum points for the lucky Londoners.

Southampton

1
Jack Bycroft (GK)
2
Seamas Keogh
3
James Morris
4
Caleb Watts
5
Pascal Kpohmouh (C)
6
Kameron Ledwidge
7
Will Ferry
8
Ethan Burnett
Callum Watts (86′)
9
Trialist
Chris Norton (57′)
10
Benni Smales-Braithwaite
Roland Idowu (84′)
11
Kornelius Hansen
12
Will Tizzard
13
Olly Wright
14
Callum Watts
15
Roland Idowu
16
Chris Norton

Arsenal

1
Tom Smith (GK)
2
Vontae Daley-Campbell
3
Zak Swanson
4
Matthew Smith (C)
5
Mark McGuinness
6
Harrison Clarke
7
Sam Greenwood
8
Ben Cottrell
9
Folarin Balogun
Alfie Matthews (84′)
10
Tyreece John-Jules
Matthew Dennis (67′)
11
Trae Coyle
Stan Flaherty (77′)
12
Ryan Alebiousu
13
Arthur Okonkwo
14
Stan Flaherty
15
Alfie Matthews
16
Matthew Dennis
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