U18 Preview: Brighton vs Saints

By SFC Media time Fri 01 Mar Brighton v Saints
Photo by James Bridle | Kayne Ramsay

The lowdown on Southampton's latest Under-18s Premier League challengers, Brighton and Hove Albion...

THE MATCH

Brighton U18 vs Southampton U18
Under-18 Premier League
AMEX Performance Centre
Saturday 2nd March, 11am GMT 

A much improved second-half against table toppers Arsenal last time out will give Southampton's youngsters plenty of motivation to return stronger against Brighton this weekend.

A 3-1 defeat perhaps wasn't an accurate reflection of the game as a whole, and presents coach Paul Hardyman with things to be pleased about, but also plenty to work on in the lead up to Saturday's trip to the AMEX Performance Centre.

Saints were 1-0 victors over their Brighton counterparts back in September, where Enzo Robise netted the only goal of the game. It was a close ran affair, which is reflected in both clubs' current standing in the Under-18s Premier League - one point separates them.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 22: Enzo Robise (right) during the U18 Premier League match between Southampton FC and Brighton Hove Albion at Staplewood Training Ground on September 22, 2018 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by James Bridle - Southampton FC/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Enzo Robise scored the winner during the reverse fixture against Brighton back in September  

Saints in sixth are being chased down by a handful of teams, including Brighton, who would leapfrog them with victory. There's incentive for Hardyman's side too, though, who could overtake Aston Villa in fifth with a win.

At this stage, the league's three front-runners - Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea - are unlikely to be caught at the top.

COACH'S THOUGHTS: Paul Hardyman 

It's a time of transition for Hardyman and his Under-18s side. Individuals continue to make the step up to the Under-23s, giving young first-year scholars their chance to impress on a Saturday morning.

And while results, which have largely been positive since the turn of the year, aren't the sole focus, Hardyman acknowledged that it would be nice to finish the season with a run of good performances, and results to match.

"We've been playing a few of the younger lads, and it's been their first proper go at U18s football," Hardyman began.

"It's an interesting time, to see how they're developing. They felt the pressure against Arsenal last week.

"But they've got to learn to deal with pressure, it's a big part of the game. I wasn't unhappy with the effort, but there was a bit of anxiety that affected our game.

"It's sometimes frustrating when you know what the lads are capable of producing, and then they don't reach that. But that's why we're in the development game.

"We got a good reaction in the second half against Arsenal. We shouldn't under-estimate ourselves in terms of elite academies.

"We've got to make sure we're producing individuals that can play as a part of a Premier League team; it's lovely to win games of course, but we want to be pushing player development to the max every week."

Related

Highlights: Saints 2-0 Fulham
chevron right
U18 Highlights: Brighton 1-3 Saints timeSat 02 Mar
video
Brighton v Saints

U18 Highlights: Brighton 1-3 Saints

Youngsters return to winning ways in Under-18s Premier League.

U18 Report: Brighton 1-3 Saints
Gallery: Thursday training at Staplewood SFC_Camera
Saints v Manchester United

Gallery: Thursday training at Staplewood

Take a look through the lens at Southampton's Thursday training session.

time2 hours ago
Festive fixture schedule confirmed Fans to return to St Mary’s