Saints Development Squad coach Martin Hunter was encouraged by the manner in which the Under-21s played out their 2-2 draw with Blackburn Rovers on Monday night.
On what was the first occasion where Southampton U21s recorded a draw in this campaign, Hunter was particularly impressed by the intense style that the hosts employed at Staplewood.
Hunter said after the match: “I was pleased with the attacking play but I was very pleased with the pressing. The number of times we regained the ball and then played through attack was good. For Calum [Chambers] to come off with cramp – he’s a very, very fit lad – shows the intensity of what he and the others were doing.
“In the first half, after the first 15 minutes I thought we totally dominated the play and created some good chances. If our decision-making had been a bit more clinical we would have scored more goals – but in terms of how we want to play through the thirds of the pitch, there was plenty of evidence of that.
“If we’d have taken our chances it could have been three-nil. Omar [Rowe] had a good chance and then from his delivery on the set-play, we should have scored from the rebound – that’s a fact. We had a chat at half-time about not starting sluggishly, which we didn’t. If we’d have got the second goal [before half-time] I’m sure we would have won the game convincingly.”
Despite ruing Rovers’ comeback in the face of growing confidence from the Saints, Hunter understands that the side are only young and is adamant they will continue to mirror their training ground work in matches.
When quizzed on whether Hunter believed the U21s replicated his desired style against Monday’s visitors, he responded: “For 90 per cent of the time, and then there were some errors. These are young players who are learning and they will make mistakes. It’s how they deal with that and how we help them as coaches to get better. They have implemented a lot of the work that we’ve done.
“I still think we got on the ball and tried to pass it like we want to pass it. We’re not going to change that. We’re not going to suddenly go from back to front – that’s not what we’re here for. We’ll stick to what we know is right and stick to the principles of what we’re doing.”