Report: Saints stage Bristol City friendly

By SFC Media time Fri 12 Jun First team
Photo by Matt Watson | Ché Adams

The rundown of what happened when Southampton met Championship side Bristol City in a behind-closed-doors friendly at St Mary's Stadium on Friday afternoon, which was split into three 45 minute periods...

FIRST 45

Team: McCarthy (GK), Danso, Vestergaard, Bertrand, Højbjerg, Ward-Prowse, Smallbone, Armstrong, Redmond, Ings, Obafemi.

Straight out of the starting blocks, it took just 35 seconds before the deadlock was broken at St Mary's, with Michael Obafemi wasting no time in burning through the gears to close down Bristol City keeper Daniel Bentley.

He was narrowly beaten to the ball, but his presence was enough to blindside City's stopper, who had left his goal gaping for Stuart Armstrong to calmly side-foot the ricochet into an empty net.

A mere six minutes later, the hosts had a deserved second, with their fast-paced start being rewarded with a commanding 2-0 lead.

Owing much to the neat footwork of young midfielder Will Smallbone – who has this week signed a new four-year deal with the club – he wriggled free to tee up Armstrong who was arriving late from wide right, and did well to complete an impressive team move with a precise first-time finish.

20200612 Southampton v Bristol City (Friendly)
Stuart Armstrong found the net twice in the first period

City pulled one back in the 14th minute when Niclas Eliasson forced his way into the box, thanks to some lapse defending, as Saints failed to clear before the ball was skewed, rather awkwardly, into the far corner.

There was then a let off for Saints 20 minutes in, as Famara Diédhiou went racing through, catching Alex McCarthy off-guard, but the City frontman's lob was marginally off target, with McCarthy doing enough to force a rushed effort at goal.

Midway through the first of three 45 minute periods, City had drawn themselves level. Callum O'Dowda escaped behind the Saints backline and motored down the left before the ball was reversed and lifted into his path, allowing the winger to smash emphatically past McCarthy from ten yards out.

Up the opposite end, Danny Ings was the beneficiary of the visitors' misfortune in the 41st minute, pouncing upon a series of poor clearances. Obafemi had the initial effort, rebuffed by Bentley, but the high press continued to put the visitors under pressure, before Ings sprang to life at the sight of the rebound and swept home, scoring what would be the final goal of an entertaining friendly game.

20200612 Southampton v Bristol City (Friendly)
Will Smallbone retaining possession expertly in midfield

SECOND 45

Team: McCarthy (GK), Danso, Vestergaard, Bertrand, Valery, Ward-Prowse, Smallbone, Højbjerg, Redmond, Ings, Obafemi.

The second period saw the first change of the game for Saints, as Armstrong was replaced by Yan Valery, meaning Pierre-Emile Højbjerg took up a place in centre midfield.

Three minutes in and more goals looked likely as Kevin Danso was denied, before James Ward-Prowse followed up with an attempted lob that was tipped over by City keeper Bentley.

It was then Ward-Prowse again trying to extend the lead as he created space outside the area, but his effort was deflected out for a corner.

20200612 Southampton v Bristol City (Friendly)
James Ward-Prowse had two chances before eight changes were made in the second period

Four minutes later and Saints created the best chance of the period. Ings looped over a through ball to Obafemi, who was able to hold it up for the on-running Nathan Redmond who laid it off in turn to Smallbone, but his effort was straight at Bentley.

Ralph Hasenhüttl would then mix his team up, but not before Redmond had one last effort, cutting in from the left but hitting his effort over the bar.

The eight changes saw Jack Stephens, Jan Bednarek, Jake Vokins, Kyle Walker-Peters, Oriol Romeu, Sofiane Boufal, Ché Adams and Nathan Tella join McCarthy, Valery and Højbjerg to complete the Saints XI.

The chances were few and far between due to the changes, but the best fell to the striking combination of Adams and Tella.

Valery sprinted to the byline and his cross was nodded down by Adams, but between himself and Tella the ball was out over the crossbar for a goal-kick, meaning the score remained 3-2 going into the third period.

20200612 Southampton v Bristol City (Friendly)
Nathan Tella takes on the Bristol City defence during the friendly match at St Mary's.

THIRD 45

Team: Gunn (GK), Vokins, Stephens, Bednarek, Valery, Walker-Peters, Jankewitz, Romeu, Boufal, Adams, Tella.

Another two changes kicked-off the third period, with Angus Gunn and Alex Jankewitz replacing McCarthy and Højbjerg.

It was the visitors who started the half brighter as Benik Afobe forced a good one-on-one save out of Gunn and it was the Saints stopper who would again come out on top moments later.

Afobe ran into the area and was judged to have been fouled by Oriol Romeu giving Bristol City the chance to equalise from the penalty spot. However, Gunn guessed correctly and saved Afobe's spot kick low to his left.

20200612 Southampton v Bristol City (Friendly)
Angus Gunn gets down low to save Benik Afobe's penalty

Saints started to create some chances of their own and, with 17 minutes gone in the third period, Tella had free space to shoot from outside the area but his effort hit the inside of the post and rolled safely across the goal for a goal-kick.

Boufal would then have two chances himself with a free-kick that was saved by City's sub keeper, Niki Mäenpää, followed by a curled effort that just evaded the top corner.

Dan N'Lundulu was the last sub of the match, replacing Tella, but Saints were unable to create any more openings as they finished with a 3-2 win on their return to St Mary's.


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