U18 Preview: Saints vs Villa

By SFC Media Thu 15 Sep Saints U18 vs Villa U18

Southampton Under-18s coach Craig Fleming says his players should not let their confidence be dented after last week's 3-0 defeat at Arsenal.

After victories over defending champions Chelsea and a league-leading West Ham team, Saints' winning run came to an end when they visited the Gunners.

They will be hoping to get back on track tomorrow, when they welcome Aston Villa to Staplewood Campus for their latest Under-18 Premier League match (kick-off 12.30pm BST), and Fleming insists his players should not feel down about their most recent result.

"It was very similar to the Spurs game at the start of the season," he said, referring to the team's only other loss of the campaign so far. "It was two pretty evenly-matched sides.

"I thought Arsenal were a very good team, actually. Probably as good as I've seen since I've been around the 18s scene, but we were evenly-matched.

"Both created probably about the same amount of chances. They just had that little bit more up top quality-wise on the day, and they finished their chances and we didn't. It was a very good, close game. The scoreline did flatter it really.

"We've given the three historically strongest squads, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs, a real test now. We obviously beat Chelsea, who were the champions last year, and then against a very strong West Ham team, who were top of the league and hadn't conceded a goal, we put in a good performance against those guys as well, so we've been really pleased."

Saints' attentions are now on Villa, who won for the first time this season when they triumphed 1-0 at home to Brighton last time out.

Fleming said: "They're probably a bit more direct than what we've played so far. It will be a tough, physical game, so it will be a good test for us."

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