Saints U18s 2-2 Everton U18s
The youngsters were denied all three points thanks to an early second half strike at Staplewood.
A win would have significantly boosted Saints’ chances of qualifying for the end of season play-offs, and although they failed to collect all three points for the fourth consecutive game, there is still hope of a top-three finish.
Jason Dodd handed Under-16s star Niall Mason a first full debut in midfield, whilst goalkeeper Will Britt returned between the posts.
However, Saints fell behind with just five minutes on the watch when a poor start from the home side was made worse as a header from a free-kick found its way past Britt to give the Toffeemen an early lead.
The hosts slowly grew into the contest and hit back to take a 2-1 advantage by half-time thanks to a brace of goals from Sam GALLAGHER. The striker levelled the scores on 19 minutes when he ran onto Tom Leggett’s pass and buried a low shot into the back of the net.
Four minutes later, Sam grabbed his second after Dominic Gape and Ryan Seager had combined to square the ball across for the frontman to tap in.
Having got their noses in front without hitting top gear, it was still frustrating to see the hosts let their lead slip shortly into the second 45 when another set piece wasn’t dealt with and the ball was headed home to square the game up again.
The draw ended a three game losing streak, but Dodd concedes that Wednesday’s trip to Reading is a must-win match, whilst other results must also go their way to avoid the season from petering out.
“It’s time for us to step up to the mark,” the 18s coach explained.
“Too often, the things we have been working on in the week haven’t come off on the Saturday, and it’s not good enough.
“Today was frustrating from a defensive point of view because the things we had worked on were the exact situations that went against us. We huffed and puffed, as well has having chances, but missing those and making too many wrong decisions cost us.
“We go to Reading now and we need a win. In many ways we’ve been successful this season, but the players coming in now need to be ready. It’s a chance to impress and it’s important that we don’t let the season end on a whimper.”
Saints U18s: Britt, Leggett, Mugabi, McCarthy, Colmer, Gape, Mason (Higgins 69), Ariyibi (Hesketh 69), Rowe (Branker 80), Seager, Gallagher