It’s a first home game of the season for Southampton’s B team, who host last season’s Premier League 2 league leaders Chelsea at AFC Totton’s Snows Stadium.
Saints B team vs Chelsea U23s
Premier League 2
Friday 18th September, 7:00pm BST
Behind closed doors
Dave Horseman’s side got off to the best possible start to their Premier League 2 season last week, coming from behind to beat Arsenal with ten men thanks to goals from Josh Sims and Kegs Chauke.
Saints had gone a goal behind early on at the Arsenal Training Centre through Ben Cottrell’s 11th minute strike, but turned the game around during the second 45 in a dominating performance.
Chelsea similarly got off to a winning start in PL2, beating West Ham United 1-0 at home on Monday.
In what was a tight game, the Blues got their winner 14 minutes from time through Dion Rankine to ensure of the three points.
It’s almost a year to the day since Saints’ last meeting with Chelsea, which came at St Mary’s stadium in front of 1,325 fans.
An experienced Chelsea side came away as 2-0 winners, with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Clinton Mola scoring two second half goals for the visitiors.
Also amongst the starting eleven for Chelsea that day were the likes of Billy Gilmour and Reece James, both now with plenty of first team experience to their name.
Saints fielded a side which will be similar to that facing the same opposition this week, with Callum Slattery skippering the side and Dan N’Lundulu leading the attack.
In what has been a successful first week for the new B team set up, Horseman described the mood in the camp following that opening day victory.
“It was a good performance,” he said. “There were loads and loads of positive signs and the boys have definitely learnt the stuff they’ve been taught early on in this process.
“When you have a good performance you can go heavier on the development side of things, so we’ve picked on a few things that can be improved.
“The boys have come out this week and, as you can imagine, they’ve been buzzing so we’ve had a good week so far.”
“The first team have dedicated some staff to make sure twice a week we have first team staff taking our sessions.
“We have a way we are trying to work, with a flexible coaching input, but sticking to our philosophy of playing and so far it’s been really good.”
Looking ahead to Friday’s opponents, Horseman recognised the threats the Blues will pose to his side.
“It’s probably, in academy football, the ultimate test. They’re the champions of the league last year. Over the last ten years they’re serial winners, they win everything every year. So it’s a test. They’re very good.
“It will really test our principles to see how far we’ve come, but we know that this is one of the hardest games you’ll play every year no matter what age group.”
Horseman also highlighted the team’s excitement at getting back to playing at AFC Totton’s Snows Stadium this week, a place he described as their ‘match venue.’
“We had some really good experiences there [at AFC Totton] last year. Coming away from the training ground playing at a stadium, it just feels like a game.
“It’s miles better than playing at training grounds. It’s a much better experience for the boys. This feels like our match venue so looking forward to be back.
“It will be a similar squad [to the one that faced Arsenal], but maybe with a couple that need to be swapped out due to knocks and niggles.”