Premier League 2 Division One
Southampton Under 23s 1
Tottenham Hotspur Under 23s 0
Attendance: ? (Around 500 at a rough guess)
St Mary’s Stadium
Having returned from Nottingham and knowing that Saturday was going to be spent with friends in London rather than at a game, I was keen to get over to St Mary’s for the umpteenth time to watch the under 23s take on their Spurs counterparts in the newly established Premier League 2 league.
Southampton are famous for bringing players through their academy structure with the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw all graduating from the St Mary’s youth setup so tonight’s game was a good chance to see some of the next batch of youngsters all hoping to embark on a career at the top end of the game.
You only have to look at the Saints’ last senior game to see four academy graduates in the starting line up against Crystal Palace in the League Cup on Wednesday. This compares to Palace’s solo academy representative in Wilfried Zaha in their match day squad two days ago.
Tonight’s 7pm kick off was causing some issues in that I didn’t finish work until 7 o’clock. However a sharp exit and a quick drive to the stadium I missed about 15 minutes and managed to catch up with one of my old university friends who had agreed to meet me at the game and filled me in on what I missed in the opening exchanges.
I love St Mary’s! See my comments about the ground from my first visit this season; ‘Travelling To- Southampton’ from back in August.
Alternatively, to read my thoughts from my last visit; ‘Saints in Europe- Sparta Prague’.
Jack Stephens’ first half goal was enough to seal the three points for Southampton Under 23s against Tottenham Hotspur Under 23s in a game where both sides finished with ten men.
The victory for Martin Hunter’s men puts the young side top of the league after six games, one point ahead of Everton and Liverpool.
Josh Sims had the first real effort of the game, testing ‘keeper Tom Glover low in the corner from the edge of the box. Moments later Harley Willard blazed a volley over from close range after finding space in the area.
Tottenham’s Shilow Tracey forced a great save at the near post from Harry Lewis who managed to get a leg to the shot to save a great shooting chance.
Saints were having the better of the chances and Glover decided to race out of his box clear a long ball over the top but home striker Olufela Olomola managed to get a touch but couldn’t quite convert the long-range effort into the open net.
Southampton did break the deadlock on 38 minutes when Josh Sims was fouled by George Marsh wide on the edge of the box. Sims swung the free kick into the area and Jack Stephens managed to direct the header into the back of the net. Despite Glover getting a hand to the shot the ball still crossed the line via the crossbar.
In the second half Josh Sims was really catching the eye and he nearly doubled Southampton’s lead when he latched on to a poor clearance from Glover, however the young winger pushed the ball wide giving Glover a chance to get back into position to make a good save.
It was a very even affair and Spurs full back Kyle Walker-Peters (not to be confused with Spurs first team right back Kyle Walker) was also catching the eye and he nearly equalised but Harry Lewis was alert to collect the low shot through a crowded penalty area.
Substitute Keanan Bennetts curled a free kick just wide of the mark a few minutes after coming on to try and pull the scores level but Lewis just had to watch it whistle wide of his goal.
The game then turned into a pub brawl moments later when a little fracas involving the majority of the 22 men on the pitch resulted in both teams ending the game with ten men when Marsh and Willard both received second bookings for their involvement in the debacle with about 15 minutes left to play.
The sending offs took the wind out of both sides as the clock ticked down to give Southampton four wins from six.
2016/17 Games: 34
2016/17 Grounds: 36
Total Grounds Visited: 172