Southampton’s Under-18s made it back-to-back victories in the Elite group with a terrific win over Manchester United at Staplewood.
Jason Dodd’s side led three times in an entertaining contest which they made safe late on through substitute Sam Gallagher’s close range finish.
A blistering start to the game set the tone for the match. Saints were infront with less than two minutes on the watch when Gboly Ariyibi’s fine run and cross from the left was converted in style by Jake FLANNIGAN who swivelled to volley home into the bottom corner of Pierluigi Gollini’s goal.
Almost immediately though, United were back on level terms when Jack Barmby broke into the area to test Chris Johns at close range, and although the Northern Irishman kept the shot out, the ball rebounded kindly for Josh HARROP to turn in an equaliser at the far post.
Thereafter, Southampton were largely in control. Ariyibi saw a diving header tipped over the crossbar, whilst Sam McQueen was twice denied before the interval as the teams went in 1-1 at the break.
It was a similar story in the second period, and although the visitors did hit the crossbar, Saints deservedly regained their one goal advantage when a blocked shot inside the box came back to MCQUEEN who rifled a shot into the empty net for 2-1 on 76 minutes.
A grandstand finish was ensured when United equalised for a second time on 81 when James WEIR drilled a fine strike home from the edge of the area, but the match was to take a twist once again when the hosts went straight up the other end to score a third. Ryan SEAGER the man on target for his 16th goal of the season, just days after returning from representing England Under-17s at the Algarve tournament.
With eight minutes still remaining, Saints were determined not to let their opponents in it again, and the introductions of Jake Hesketh and Charlie Higgins added some extra bite in midfield to allow the hosts to seal their win in the 89th minute.
It came via the other substitute Sam GALLAGHER who kept his composure by rounding the United ‘keeper before poking in from an acute angle to make it 4-2 heading into stoppage time for a second consecutive victory following on from last week’s 2-0 success over Bolton Wanderers.
Saints U18s: Johns, Leggett, McCarthy, Mugabi, Wood, Gape, Flannigan (Higgins 83), Reed, Ariyibi, (Gallagher 65) McQueen (Hesketh 88), Seager. Subs (not used): Isted, Nehemie.