Southampton’s Under-21s made it back-to-back victories with a well-earned 2-0 win over West Brom at the Silverlake Stadium.
The goals arrived late in each half to get Martin Hunter’s side’s Elite group campaign truly up and running following on from their 1-0 success over West Ham just over a week ago.
Alberto Seidi was handed his first start of the campaign, whilst Andy Robinson returned in midfield after a lengthy absence, but it was the younger players who stole the show as Omar Rowe and Jake Sinclair were on the scoresheet in a game played under difficult conditions on a chilly night in Eastleigh.
Saints did though, have the better of the game throughout, and their first half efforts were eventually rewarded on the stroke of the interval. Sinclair’s pressure led to a break which Seidi benefitted from before he squared a cross to Omar ROWE who kept his cool to tap home at the far post.
The second period saw Albion make a brief go of it, with Kemar Roofe twice forcing Paulo Gazzaniga into making saves at his near post.
Hunter’s men responded to that when Rowe went close again by firing over after a dazzling run through midfield.
The win however, was made safe on 83 minutes when a terrific darting run and cross from Calum Chambers was diverted across goal via substitute Joe Curtis, into the path of Jake SINCLAIR, who turned and finished high inside the area to seal the win.
A second successive victory was the perfect tonic for the 21s who host Liverpool at St Mary’s next week, with assistant coach Steve Greaves explaining the key factors behind the success.
“It was the overall professionalism,” he surmised. “I think we saw tonight that it wasn’t a pretty game, but it was never going to be that.
“The pitch was obviously very bobbly and there was a little more wind out there than you would imagine, but all round I would describe it as a very effective performance.
“When the opportunity was there to pass it we did that, but again I’d use the word effective. We managed to isolate Alberto on occasions and Omar in the wide areas where we used their pace to good effect. It may not have been pretty at times, but we ground out a positive result.”
The win was secured by Sinclair, who was rewarded for a strong shift in attack alongside Rowe and Seidi.
“It was a really good all round team goal the second one,” Greaves highlighted. “I’m really pleased for Jake too because he worked almost tirelessly the entire game and that was his just rewards. He’d earned that goal so we’re very pleased with him.
“They (West Brom) had one sort of half chance early in the game but after that they had one good chance in the second where a good through-ball to a very positive run ended in Paulo making a solid save from our point of view. Other than that we restricted their chances well I thought.
“We’re putting this one to bed already now and everybody is looking forward to next Monday as you can imagine,” he added.
“It’s a great opportunity to play at the stadium and we’ll embrace the occasion in that respect, but from our point of view we’ve had two wins and it’s a platform to go out and show what they can do.
“The next thing for these young players is to deliver quality on top of quality. That’s two professional performances that have produced two good wins and now the challenge is to go and deliver another performance next week on Monday, against what I’m sure will be a very strong Liverpool team.”
Saints U21s: Gazzaniga, Chambers, Stephens, Turnbull, Targett, Robinson (Curtis 68), Moore, Ward-Prowse, Seidi (McQueen 74), Sinclair, Rowe. Subs (not used): Johns, Young, Gallagher.
WBA U21s: Lewis, Hurst, Smart, O’Neil, Atkinson, Jones, Roofe, Allan, Sawyers, Nabi, Brown. Subs (not used): Birch, Palmer, Wedderburn, Francis, S Nabi.