U23s Report: Saints 1-3 Coventry

By SFC Media time Tue 01 Sep B Team
Photo by Isabelle Field

Despite dominating possession, Southampton's youngsters fell to a 3-1 defeat to newly promoted Championship side Coventry City at St Mary's.

The hosts took the lead just before the break; Jake Vokins finishing off a neat passing move to give Saints a deserved advantage following a dominant first half.

Coventry equalised just past the hour mark after withstanding a lot of pressure; substitute Jonny Ngandu firing home from close range to level the scores.

City’s second came 15 minutes from time; Max Biamou using his pace to latch onto a lofted through-ball and slot home to make it 2-1.

Despite Saints continuing to dominate the ball the counter proved effective for the Championship side, who added a third through a David Bremang header with two minutes to go.

Saints started with a side that featured a mixture of experience and youth; Fraser Forster, Vokins and Yan Valery amongst those who started in the back five.

The home side enjoyed the majority of possession during the opening 15 minutes, as Dan N’Lundulu and Nathan Tella both looked a threat going forward with strong link up play.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 1: Jake Vokins goal reaction during a pre-season friendly match between Southampton U23 and Coventry City at St Mary's Stadium on September 1, 2020 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Isabelle Field/Southampton FC)
Jake Vokins wheels away after scoring the opener.

Callum Slattery also proved to be a dominant figure during the early stages; winning back possession with a strong challenge just past the 20-minute mark before seeing his long-range effort deflected wide.

The first effort which tested Coventry’s Marko Marosi between the sticks came six minutes later, as Tella picked up possession on the edge of the box and forced a low save down to the keeper’s left-hand side.

Eventually it took a fine passing move for the home side to take the lead five minutes short of the break, as Vokins found himself on the scoresheet.

Valery switched the play after good hold-up work by N’Lundulu, finding Tella just inside the penalty area, who laid the ball back to the eventual scorer.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 1: Dan N'Lundulu (L) and Jake Vokins (R) celebrating Jake Vokins goal during a pre-season friendly match between Southampton U23 and Coventry City at St Mary's Stadium on September 1, 2020 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Isabelle Field/Southampton FC)
Jake Vokins celebrates with Dan N'Lundulu.

Vokins then played a short pass into Jake Hesketh, who found Josh Sims with plenty of space inside the penalty area.

Sims returned the ball to Vokins with an audacious backheel flick, before the full-back slotted the ball past Marosi to give Dave Horseman’s side a deserved lead.

Saints pushed for a second in the remaining minutes of the opening 45; Hesketh hitting an effort from just outside the penalty area which curled just wide.

But at the interval it remained 1-0 to the home side, with Coventry proving to be a tough side to break down.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 1: during a pre-season friendly match between Southampton U23 and Coventry City at St Mary's Stadium on September 1, 2020 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Isabelle Field/Southampton FC)
Callum Slattery proved a constant threat from midfield.

Saints made two changes at the break; youngster Allan Thaptchet replacing Alfie Jones in the heart of the defence whilst Jack Bycroft came in for Forster between the sticks.

The first big chance of the second half fell the way of the hosts; Bycroft’s long kick finding an unmarked N’Lundulu on the edge of the Coventry penalty area, whose eventual shot was well closed down.

Five minutes before the hour mark and Horseman’s side had another glorious chance to double their lead, with Tella involved again following a strong run down the left flank.

The winger made the most of a defensive mistake from Thompson, before looking to slot the ball past Marosi but for a strong save via the Coventry keeper’s feet.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 1: during a pre-season friendly match between Southampton U23 and Coventry City at St Mary's Stadium on September 1, 2020 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Isabelle Field/Southampton FC)
Fraser Forster gained some more pre-season minutes.

But despite all of Saints’ possession and plethora of chances, the next goal of the game came for the visitors in the 62nd minute.

Substitute Ngandu found space inside the Saints’ penalty area before firing past Bycroft from close range to level the scores.

With 20 minutes to go, Saints made six changes to the side, with Lucas Defise, Enzo Robise and Caleb Watts amongst those taking to the field.

Although the home side continued to enjoy large amounts of possession a break-away meant Coventry were the side to go ahead 15 minutes from time.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 1: Alfie Jones of southampton during a pre-season friendly match between Southampton U23 and Coventry City at St Mary's Stadium on September 1, 2020 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Isabelle Field/Southampton FC)
Alfie Jones latches onto a corner.

An over-the-top through ball was latched onto by the pacey Biamou, who coolly slot the ball into the bottom left-hand corner to give City their first lead of the afternoon.

The now youthful Saints side out on the filed at St Mary’s continued to enjoy the lion’s share of possession, but once again Coventry proved clinical on the counter.

Another substitute, Bremang, did well to head home a low cross from the left wing with two minutes to go and seal the result for the Championship side.

It proved to be another test for Horseman’s side, against a strong outfit, but one in which eventually resulted in a 3-1 defeat.

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