U23s Report: West Brom 0-1 Saints

By SFC Media Mon 25 Sep West Brom v Saints
Photo by James Bridle | Saints celebration
Mon 25 Sep 7PM
Premier League 2 - Division 2
West Bromwich Albion
0
Southampton
1
McQueen [80']
Palmer [79']
Referee: David Rock | Venue: Aggborough Stadium | Attendance: 0

Sam McQueen earned Saints all three points from the penalty spot, as Radhi Jaïdi's side edged passed ten-man West Brom.

Jonathan Afolabi's eagerness won the spot-kick, which was calmly converted by fullback McQueen, and perhaps the advantage could have been greater if Saints were able to capitalise on plenty of meaningful second half possession.

West Brom entered the tie in unfavourable form - beaten in their previous three league fixtures - as they continued to prop up the foot of the Premier League 2 standings, while Saints were buoyed by a convincing win over Stoke a week ago.

The visitors rode some early pressure as a succession of corners were delivered invitingly in to the Saints' penalty area.

And the away side were nearly the architects of their own downfall in the preamble, as a miscued back pass allowed first-team regular Nacer Chadli a chance to intercept in a threatening position. Unable to gather the ball, Saints were forced to heed the early warning sign, and soon stepped up a gear. 

Last week's third goal scorer, Callum Slattery, began to find pockets of space in between the lines, after using the opening ten minutes to assess his surroundings. The no.10 often had Marcus Barnes for company, once electing to use the winger, and once using his run as a decoy to manoeuvre enough space for a shot.

Tyreke Johnson - who had the beating of his marker throughout the first half - fashioned a chance for lone frontman Afolabi in the 25th minute, using his athleticism to shake off an Albion defender before deftly feeding the ball in to the path of the onrushing striker.

Afolabi's first touch was heavy, but the teenager still managed to test Alex Palmer in the Baggies' goal, who found adequate reply to the low shot, saving with his feet.

34 minutes had passed before Saints forcibly called Palmer in to action, strong-arming the 'keeper in to some one-handed acrobatics, just as the ball looked destined for the net. The hefty presence of McQueen and stand-in defender Ollie Cook were causing unease among the Albion defensive line, before a second headed effort was sent over the bar by the latter. 

Saints finished the half the stronger, and started the second period in much the same manner. Thomas O'Conner had the pick of the passes as the visitors began to dominate once more, threading an incisive ball in to McQueen, but the fullback's cross wasn't able to locate a red and white shirt.

Full of energy, McQueen gracefully danced through the Albion backline moments later, before Johnson disappointedly blasted high and wide of the target.

Johnson again, an increasing threat drifting inside, drove a fierce shot goalward in the 72nd minute, before the referee gifted Saints the chance to open the scoring.

Tireless up front, Afolabi was hauled down by the Albion shot stopper, who was dismissed for his troubles, and McQueen was then given the task of holding his nerve against substitute 'keeper Bradley House.

The 22-year-old calmly slotted home from 12 yards, edging Saints in front with ten minutes remaining; a goal which proved decisive and sent the visitors home with three deserving points.

West Brom

1
Alex Palmer (GK)
2
Aram Soleman
3
Max Melbourne
4
Jack Chambers
5
Nathan Ferguson
6
Kyle Jameson
7
Rayhaan Tullock
8
Zack Brown
9
Callum Morton
Evan Pierce (66′)
10
Nacer Chadli
Finn Azaz (45′)
11
Robbie McCourt
Bradley House (76′)
12
Nick Clayton-Phillips
13
Bradley House
14
Finn Azaz
15
Evan Pierce
16
Morgan Rogers

Southampton

1
Alex McCarthy (GK)
2
Richard Bakary
3
Sam McQueen
4
Thomas O'Connor
12
Ollie Cook
6
Alfie Jones (C)
7
Marcus Barnes
8
Armani Little
9
Jonathan Afolabi
10
Callum Slattery
11
Tyreke Johnson
13
Jack Rose
14
Aaron O'Driscoll
15
Will Wood
16
Ben Rowthorn
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