U23 Report: Saints 1-2 Reading

By SFC Media Fri 01 Mar Saints v Reading
Photo by James Bridle | Dan N'Lundulu
Fri 01 Mar 7PM
Premier League 2 - Division 2
Southampton
1
Reading
2
Johnson [55']
Frost [72'] Pendlebury [81']
N'Lundulu (31') Tella (68') Ferry (89') Hamblin (90')
Holmes (64') Howe (90+2')
Referee: Adrian Quelch | Venue: Staplewood Campus | Attendance: 87

Southampton's youngsters fell to their first Premier League 2 defeat of 2019 on Friday night, as title rivals Reading left it late to seal all three points at Staplewood.

Radhi Jaïdi's side, who didn't quite reach the level of previous weeks, had edged in front early in the second period, only to be pegged back by goals from substitute pairing Tyler Frost and Oliver Pendlebury.

A disappointing result, although not a fatal one, in terms of the challenge for PL2's crown, and ultimately promotion to Division One, but certainly a setback after an excellent recent run of league results.

Fellow contenders Wolves - Saints' next league opponents - were also held by Middlesbrough on the night, meaning the gap has narrowed to two points, but top spot is still occupied by Southampton.

It was an energetic start from the hosts, whose high press was unsettling their guests early on. All in the space of 12 first-half minutes, the home side had four consecutive corner opportunities, hit the crossbar via Nathan Tella, and had a shot fly a whisker wide of the mark - again from the winger.

The Royals were also in the mood, though, and there appeared to be little danger of either PL2 title challenger settling for a share of the spoils.

Michael Olise flashed an effort wide of Fraser Forster's goal in the 19th minute, before a wonderfully crafted chance for Kayne Ramsay at the opposite end.

It was Harry Hamblin that spotted the opening, and Ramsay's movement was equally impressive as he snuck inside Ramarni Medford-Smith and fired early, but hit the 16-year-old frame of keeper Coniah Boyce-Clark.

It remained an entertaining encounter, with both pressing for an opener. Saints nearly got in behind Reading five minutes before the interval, with a couple of intelligent exchanges on the edge of the box, but Boyce-Clark beat Tella to the final pass.

Tyreke Johnson squeezes the ball home for the game's opener

It opened up further after the break, and it was Saints who drew first blood. Ramsay was becoming an increasing menace down the right, and one of his driving runs found the feet of substitute Jonathan Afolabi in space in the 55th minute.

The striker, out wide, fizzed a ball across the box, which was awkwardly dealt with by Akin Odimayo and then fumbled over the line by poacher Tyreke Johnson. It was scrappy, but significant for the boys in red and white, who finally had a foothold in the tie.

A few moments later, another well-worked Saints move reached its conclusion with Tella, who latched onto Afolabi's square pass and half-volleyed at goal - forcing an uncomfortable, but effective, save from Boyce-Clark.

Josh Barrett's tame free-kick was the best chance of a less impressive spell for the visitors, before a mistake from Ramsay gifted them an opportunity from the penalty spot - effectively turning the game on its head.

Substitute Frost stepped up to convert from 12 yards, sending Forster the wrong way to draw level and give Reading the impetus they needed to find an extra gear.

10 minutes later, they were in front. Some lapse defending from Saints offered Pendlebury the chance to strike the winner. Winger Barrett had beaten Alfie Jones down the left, but eventually had his pathway blocked, before the ball fell loose to substitute Pendlebury 20 yards out, who slammed home for Reading's second of the night, and the key to all three points.

Southampton

Head to Head Stats

Reading
  • Possession (%)
    41
    59
  • Shots
    13
    15
  • Shots on target
    5
    6
  • Corners
    9
    2
  • Passes Complete
    208
    370

Southampton PL2

1
Fraser Forster (GK)
6
Alfie Jones
4
Thomas O'Connor (C)
5
Aaron O'Driscoll
2
Kayne Ramsay
8
Alexandre Jankewitz
William Smallbone (45′)
10
Harry Hamblin
3
Jake Vokins
9
Daniel N'Lundulu
Jonathan Afolabi (45′)
7
Nathan Tella
11
Tyreke Johnson
Will Ferry (79′)
13
Alex Cull
16
Jonathan Afolabi
12
Christoph Klarer
14
William Smallbone
15
Will Ferry

Reading PL2

1
Coniah Boyce-Clarke (GK)
5
Akinwale Odimayo
6
Thomas Holmes
2
Jamal Balogun
Teddy Howe (56′)
3
Ramarni Medford-Smith
4
Ryan East (C)
10
Michael Olise
7
Joel Rollinson
Tyler Frost (56′)
8
Jordan Holsgrove
Oli Pendlebury (76′)
11
Josh Barrett
9
Adam Liddle
12
Andre Burley
13
Jokull Andersson
15
Teddy Howe
14
Oli Pendlebury
16
Tyler Frost
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