U23 Report: Saints 5-1 Sunderland

By SFC Media Mon 29 Apr Saints v Sunderland
Photo by James Bridle
Mon 29 Apr 7PM
Premier League 2 - Division 2
Southampton
5
Sunderland
1
Klarer [26'] Johnson [28'] Smallbone [54'] Barnes [65'] Jones [70']
Connelly [4']
O'Driscoll (62')
Mbunga-Kimpioka (72') Connelly (89')
Referee: Paul Howard | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 364

Southampton Under-23s signed off the regular season in style with a convincing win over rock-bottom Sunderland at St Mary’s to finish as Premier League 2 runners-up.

It was the visitors who took an early lead through Lee Connelly’s accurate finish from a tight angle, but the young Saints soon took charge.

Christoph Klarer and Tyreke Johnson turned the game on its head with two goals in two first-half minutes, before the second period turned into a damage-limitation exercise for the struggling Mackems.

Will Smallbone’s penalty made it three, while Marcus Barnes scored immediately after coming off the bench before Alfie Jones headed home a corner from Barnes’s fellow substitute Will Ferry.

The result leaves Saints level on points with champions Wolves in the final table, but some eight goals adrift after the Midlands club effectively sealed the title on Friday night.

Radhi Jaïdi’s side now face a home play-off semi-final against fifth-placed Aston Villa as their pursuit of a return to the top tier continues.

Saints were stunned by Connelly’s fourth-minute opener, as the pacey striker latched on to a pass down the right channel that tempted Harry Lewis to come rushing out of his goal.

The keeper was left exposed as the ball never reached his penalty area, and Connelly took advantage with a smart finish from a tricky angle.

Sunderland keeper Anthony Patterson is beaten for the first of five Saints goals on the night

Jaïdi’s team responded well. Anthony Patterson made a stooping save after Johnson teed up Smallbone, before Smallbone arrived at the far post to meet a Jake Vokins cross, but could not hit the target as he stretched to connect on the volley. 

The same duo combined again when Vokins picked out the midfielder with another accurate cross, but again Smallbone’s shot cleared the crossbar.

Ever-involved, Smallbone attempted to turn provider when he fed an inviting low ball into the box missed by Thomas O’Connor and Johnson after some fine build-up play from striker Dan N’Lundulu, who was coming deep and causing problems.

Saints were getting closer. This time Johnson dropped off into a pocket of space and eyed up the top corner with a curling shot that left Patterson rooted to the spot, crashing against the bar before Smallbone fired wide on the follow-up.

Seconds later, Sunderland succumbed to Saints’ constant pressure, as Johnson crossed for Klarer to head home from six yards.

The scores were level for no more than two minutes. With their tails up, Saints were on the attack again when skipper O’Connor slid the ball through for Johnson, who had the pace to get beyond the defence and the composure to slot home via the foot of the far post.

Marcus Barnes reacts quickest to score Saints' fourth goal from a tight angle

Early setback aside, the hosts were completely dominant and that trend continued into the second half.

Vokins crashed a low shot inches wide, before Sunderland failed to clear their lines from a Saints corner, leading to a trip on Jones and an obvious penalty.

Up stepped Smallbone to finally get his goal – by the skin of his teeth as Patterson guessed right, to his left, tipping the ball on to the post before it nestled in the back of his net.

Jaïdi turned to his bench just after the hour, introducing Ferry and Barnes, whose collective impact was immediate.

Ferry found Barnes at the end of a driving run, with the forward instantly getting his name on the scoresheet as he reacted quickest to a loose ball just as a last-ditch tackle looked to have halted his progress.

Four became five when Ferry assisted again five minutes later, swinging in a corner right on top of Patterson, leaving Jones to jump fairly and nod home from point-blank range.

A goal-line clearance denied Kayne Ramsay a place on the scoresheet as Saints’ sixth different scorer, but the margin of victory will still fuel the team’s belief going into the play-offs.

Southampton

Head to Head Stats

Sunderland
  • Possession (%)
    56
    44
  • Shots
    25
    4
  • Shots on target
    13
    1
  • Corners
    6
    2
  • Passes Complete
    410
    312

Southampton PL2

1
Harry Lewis (GK)
4
Alfie Jones
5
Aaron O'Driscoll
Caleb Watts (81′)
6
Christoph Klarer
2
Kayne Ramsay
10
William Smallbone
7
Harry Hamblin
8
Thomas O'Connor (C)
3
Jake Vokins
9
Daniel N'Lundulu
Will Ferry (64′)
11
Tyreke Johnson
Marcus Barnes (64′)
15
Will Ferry
16
Marcus Barnes
13
Jack Rose
14
Caleb Watts
12
Oludare Olufunwa

Sunderland PL2

1
Anthony Patterson (GK)
5
Jacob Young
3
Williams Kokolo
2
Owen Gamble (C)
6
Michael Collins
Alex Storey (71′)
8
Jack Connolly
Kane Evans (69′)
4
Daniel Neill
10
Jake Hackett
7
Bali Mumba
9
Benjamin Mbunga-Kimpioka
11
Lee Connelly
16
Liam Miller
12
Alex Storey
14
Kane Evans
15
Harry Ord
13
Max Johnstone
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