Saints U18s 5-2 Sunderland U18s
Saints triumphed for the second time in a seven goal thriller with the Black Cats to qualify for the top division of Academy football next year.
The youngsters went into the game knowing that a win would secure a top three finish in their current group which still has three games to run before January.
They couldn’t have got off to a better start either as Jason Dodd’s side got their noses in front with just two minutes on the watch when Charlie HIGGINS turned home Dominic Gape’s cross to give the hosts an early foothold.
On a gloriously sunny morning at the club’s training ground, Saints were the brighter team in the opening 45 minutes, creating the best of the chances as they sensed a quick kill on the back of their early strike.
Winger Omar Rowe was particularly impressive, and it was his fine run and cross down the left that provided schoolboy Josh SIMS with a chance to head home Saints’ second goal on 30 minutes to give the home side some breathing space.
Two became three on the stroke of half time thanks to another perfectly placed cross from Rowe. His drilled ball into the area was snapped up by top scorer Ryan SEAGER who couldn’t miss from close range, as Dodd’s team held a three goal cushion at the interval.
After the break Saints killed the game off when ROWE got the goal his performance deserved with a rising shot inside the near post, which slipped through the goalkeeper’s hands to stretch the lead on 52 minutes.
The clinical finishing from the hosts was proving to be the difference, and there was little surprise when it became 5-0 in the 72nd minute when SIMS pounced for his second of the match by burying a flick on inside the Sunderland area.
The visitors pulled two goals back inside the last quarter of an hour through Lyndon Gooch and Mikael Mandron’s strikes inside the box, but aside from losing a clean sheet there was plenty for 18s coach Jason Dodd to be pleased with.
He said: “We were just ruthless and clinical in areas that we’ve been working on. Today that was the difference because they (Sunderland) had some chances, but we made sure that we put the ball in the net when we had to.
“Last week we had a lead at Newcastle and then this week as well, so I’ve challenged the lads at half time to be a bit more focused, and it was great to get two more goals.
“We know we can score goals, but we were a little bit disappointed at the end because we also conceded two poor goals.”
Although there was the familiar sight of Ryan Segaer finding the back of the net, there were four different goal scorers as the strikes were spread across the team.
“We challenge the midfield players to do that and some have got little bets amongst themselves because I’m saying to them that if they want to be a top, top player then they’ve got to have goals in the bag to get games.
“At times I was looking to the more senior players to boss it a bit better, but we also managed to get some of the young pups on which was fantastic for them.”
Saints U18s: Britt: Flannigan, McCarthy, Mugabi, Nehemie, Reed (Clinton 67), Gape (Mills 62), Higgins, Sims, Rowe, Seager (Kayembe 80).