Premier League 2 Division One
Southampton Under 23s 0
Chelsea Under 23s 0
Attendance: 500 (rough guess)
St Mary’s Stadium
What a sad day for football. Not only was this the first goalless draw for me acting under the Terrace Traveller but this was the my first 0-0 for 128 matches, a run nearly stretching for a year.
I had ridden my luck at times but I genuinely thought I would go for a full season without a goalless game. My fixture records stretch back to the 2010/11 season and I am yet to go a full season without a goalless game.
Tonight I was at a loose end, I had three options for a game and I made the wrong choice, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Option one was Saints v Chelsea, however Team Solent reserves against Verwood Town reserves was also an option.
My wildcard was Melksham Town versus Bristol Manor Farm. However the 90 miles round trip was off putting with a long drive to Gatwick Airport tomorrow.
I decided to peel myself away from Test Park and mix things up slightly with my 13th trip to St Mary’s this season. Unlucky 13.
To make matters worse, the Solent second string won 6-2! And Melksham beat top of the league Bristol Manor Farm 2-1.
Talking about the game in hand, it really is a dire state of affairs when a Saints side boasting four full internationals and seven players with first team experience against a Chelsea side full of players who are never going to feature for the first team couldn’t win the game.
However, this under 23 football, clearly has no competitive edge so how is it going to prepare our next generation of footballers to win a World Cup? Sounds extreme but everything we do as a nation should be with the intention to produce a national team that is capable of winning a World Cup.
To be honest, the performance of Sofiane Boufal, Jay Rodriguez and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg as experienced first team players was pathetic.
Southampton named a strong side against a youthful Chelsea team as both sides battled out a dull 0-0 draw in the Premier League 2 Division One campaign.
Martin Hunter named a strong line up for the game, handing new signing Martin Caceres his first appearance in Saints colours in front of a crowd who cheered the Uruguay international’s first touch of the ball shortly after kick off.
One of the few positives I can take from the match is watching the delightful Chelsea number ten, Mason Mount. The midfielder was showing a deft touch and was instrumental in the first chance of note when he fed a pass to Kyle Scott who could only fire wide.
Caceres was showing good form for a player that hasn’t had a club since his release from Juventus last summer.
Saints should have taken the lead when Jake Hesketh played a nice ball into the box to England international Jay Rodriguez scuffed a soft shot straight at Bradley Collins.
Harvey St Clair forced a good save from Saints’ French Under 21 ‘keeper Mouez Hassan who had to get low in the corner to palm the ball out for a corner. From the resulting set piece Trevor Chalobah headed at goal but it was blocked by Sam McQueen before Hassan managed to block Ike Ugbo’s chance on the line.
Josh Sims raced through the defence after a good ball from Harrison Reed but the winger fired a cross/shot that went just inches wide of the post.
Just after the restart there was a tense moment as Scott fouled Sofiane Boufal who didn’t take too kindly to the challenge and pushed the Chelsea midfielder in the face, the referee failed to hand out any punishment.
As the 60-minute mark passed Saints wasted the best chance of the game when Reed played in Sims to cross and Rodriquez fluffed his shot and it came on the bounce to Hesketh who couldn’t get his food under it and it spooned into the empty stand behind the goal.
On 62 minutes, Chelsea right back Dujon Sterling went on a mazy run into the box, getting the better of Saints sub Tyreke Johnson before firing a shot at goal that Hassan failed to hold on to but gathered at the second attempt at the feet of Ugbo.
Johnson had been lively since replacing Boufal for the home side and he forced a good save from Collins after latching onto a cross from the right wing.
As Saints looked for a late winner, Reed put a cross into the box that was dipping towards goal before Collins slapped away to secure a well-earned point for the Blues.
2016/17 Games: 104
2016/17 Grounds: 58 (9)
Total Grounds Visited: 153 (40)