Saints U23s suffer late loss

By SFC Media Fri 25 Aug Saints v Blackburn
Photo by Chris Moorhouse
Fri 25 Aug 7.00PM
Premier League 2
Southampton
0
Blackburn
1
Nuttall [89']
Doyle [35'] Tomlinson [38']
Referee: Richard Hulme | Venue: Staplewood Campus | Attendance: 0

Southampton Under-23s suffered late heartbreak in their Premier League 2 clash with Blackburn Rovers Under-23s, following a hard-fought battle at Staplewood Campus.

Joseph Nuttall's 89th-minute header gave the visitors a 1-0 lead, after it looked like both teams would take a point. 

It was cruel on Saints, who gave as good as they got against a strong Rovers side, who had won both of their opening games coming into this.

Having lost 3-0 at Wolves on Monday night, following an opening 4-0 home win over Reading, Saints could at least reflect on a more positive performance heading into Tuesday night’s Checkatrade Trophy clash away to Peterborough United.

There was one change for Saints from the side that lost at Wolves on Monday, as Ben Rowthorn was replaced in midfield by Thomas O’Connor, who returned to the starting line-up after overcoming the hamstring injury he suffered towards the end of last season.

The hosts came under threat in the fourth minute of the game, but keeper Jack Rose, who signed earlier this month, made an excellent save to turn away a Lewis Travis effort, after he cut onto his right foot in a dangerous position in the area.

Saints nearly carved out an opening after 11 minutes, as Richard Bakary’s delivery from the right was flicked on by the head of Callum Slattery, but the ball skidded just out of reach of Tyreke Johnson at the back post.

Again, in the 20th minute, the hosts nearly carved out a golden opportunity, as Marcus Barnes played a superb ball in behind for Jonathan Afolabi, but Rovers keeper Andrew Fisher sprinted out of his area to clear the ball a fraction of a second before the striker could get there.

Saints were beginning to get on top by the midway stage of the half, and they threatened again as Ollie Cook peeled away to the back post to meet O’Connor’s corner, but could only head over from a tight angle.

They could have gone behind in the 33rd minute, though, as a neat Rovers move resulted in Joseph Rankin-Costello receiving the ball in space just inside the area, but his low shot towards the far corner was sensationally saved by a diving Rose to keep the scores level.

At the other end, Barnes tested Fisher with a deflected effort from distance after a driving run, but the visiting keeper was equal to it, as the sides went in level at half-time.

Rovers were first to threaten after the restart, as the visitors again worked the ball to Rankin-Costello in space in the area, but Rose did not have to worry so much about this effort, as the ball was hit straight at him.

After Johnson tested Fisher, Rose had to be alert back at the other end to gather an in-swinging free-kick that pinged around inside the six-yard box.

Saints’ first change came in the 62nd minute, as Will Smallbone replaced O’Connor, and it nearly paid dividends within moments, as the substitute slid in to meet a low Barnes cross, but his effort on the stretch spun agonisingly wide.

Rovers really should have led with 15 minutes to go, as a Connor Thomson delivery picked out substitute Callum Wright, but he headed wide from a brilliant position.

Nuttall, however, made no mistake when the ball dropped to him with less than two minutes left, as he nodded into the top corner to give Rovers the points.

Southampton

1
Jack Rose (GK)
2
Richard Bakary
3
Will Wood
4
Thomas O'Connor
Will Smallbone (62′)
5
Ollie Cook
6
Alfie Jones (C)
7
Marcus Barnes
8
Armani Little
9
Jonathan Afolabi
10
Callum Slattery
11
Tyreke Johnson
Nathan Tella (70′)
12
Ben Rowthorn
13
Kingsley Latham
14
Nathan Tella
15
Christoph Klarer
16
Will Smallbone

Blackburn

1
Andrew Fisher (GK)
2
Charley Doyle
3
Lewis Travis
4
Willem Tomlinson
5
Matthew Platt
6
Joseph Grayson
7
Connor Thomson
8
Lewis Hardcastle (C)
9
Joseph Nuttall
10
Daniel Butterworth
Callum Wright (69′)
11
Joseph Rankin-Costello
12
Andrew Jackson
13
Charlie Albinson
14
Ben Paton
15
Lewis Mansell
16
Callum Wright
Highlights: Saints U23 0-1 Rovers U23
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Highlights: Saints U23 0-1 Rovers U23

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