U23 Report: Saints 2-0 Blackburn

By SFC Media Mon 04 Dec Saints v Blackburn
Photo by James Bridle | Southampton FC
Mon 04 Dec 7.00PM
Premier League Cup
Southampton
2
Blackburn
0
Valery [45+1'] Targett [54']
Slattery [10'] Targett [67'] Hesketh [77']
Platt [81']
Referee: Lee Brennan | Venue: Staplewood Campus | Attendance: 50

Southampton leapfrogged Blackburn at the top of the Premier League Cup Group B on Monday, a confident performance setting up a 2-0 victory at Staplewood Campus.

The goals, both brilliantly taken, would come from two unlikely sources. Right-back Yan Valery toe-poked home under pressure at the near post on the stroke of half-time before left-back Matt Targett whipped home a superb free-kick on 54 minutes to seal the points.

Radhi Jaidi’s boys began the night one point behind their visitors going into the game and at times rode their luck, particularly in the first half, against a Rovers side that had lost just once in all competitions, the night’s key moments both coming against the run of play.

Saints had conceded nine and scored 10 in their previous three matches but showed greater defensive solidity and game management here to return to the summit of Group B.

The home side began the brighter with the best of the early running coming down the right through the impressive Valery and Nathan Tella.

The pair were a constant option for Saints in the face of rising Blackburn pressure and it was the former’s directness that almost yielded the opening goal, slapping a shot against the base of the post with goalkeeper Charlie Albinson well beaten.

Rovers recovered almost immediately and looked the more likely side to break the deadlock as the half drew on.

With the 50-50s beginning to fall at visiting feet, Daniel Butterworth fired over on the angle from Lewis Mansell’s through pass and Lewis Travis’ low cross somehow evaded the waiting Callum Wright in the middle.

It took just a moment for that to all change on the stroke of the interval. Tella’s burst into the box caused indecision in the away defence allowing Valery to up the pieces, scramble inside and improvise a chipped finish past Albinson at the near post.

One became two just nine minutes into the second half. Marcus Barnes was fouled 25 yards from goal and up stepped Targett to expertly curl the resulting free-kick into the bottom corner.

Excellent midfield work from Jake Hesketh and a driving run and shot from Jonathan Afolabi threatened to further Saints’ advantage while a fine stop from Jack Rose on Matthew Platt kept Rovers out at the other end.

Saints manfully defended a final set-piece onslaught in the closing 10 minutes. Lewis Mansell struck the woodwork twice in quick succession in stoppage time but the home side never really looked like giving up their lead. 

Southampton

1
Jack Rose (GK)
2
Yan Valery
3
Matt Targett
4
Thomas O'Connor
5
Ollie Cook
6
Alfie Jones (C)
7
Nathan Tella
8
Callum Slattery
9
Marcus Barnes
10
Jake Hesketh
11
Jonathan Afolabi
Siph Mdlalose (88′)
12
Will Wood
13
Kingsley Latham
14
Armani Little
15
Will Smallbone
16
Siph Mdlalose

Blackburn

1
Charlie Albinson (GK)
2
Charley Doyle
Ben Paton (73′)
3
Sam Hart
4
Willem Tomlinson
5
Matthew Platt
6
Joseph Grayson
7
Lewis Travis
8
Lewis Hardcastle (C)
9
Lewis Mansell
10
Callum Wright
Connor Tomson (20′)
11
Daniel Butterworth
12
Ben Paton
13
Aaron Dillon
14
Connor Tomson
15
John Buckley
16
Lewis Thompson
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