U23 Report: Saints 2-0 Boro

By SFC Media Fri 10 Aug Saints v Middlesbrough
Photo by James Bridle
Fri 10 Aug 7PM
Premier League 2 - Division 2
Southampton
2
Middlesbrough
0
Jones [71'] Barnes [90+4']
Stubbs [83']
Venue: Staplewood Campus | Attendance: 0

Southampton's Under-23s began their Premier League 2 campaign with an assured 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough at Staplewood Campus on Friday evening.

Both goals arrived in the second half, with Alfie Jones opening the scoring and substitute Marcus Barnes rounding off the night with a well taken side-foot finish to seal the points.

A mature performance from Radhi Jaïdi's youngsters ensured the visitors offered little threat in front of goal, and an opening night win is sure to provide his side with plenty of confidence heading into Tuesday's International Cup clash with Dinamo Zagreb.

It wasn't all the way of Saints, though, as Middlesbrough had two early openings, during a relatively quiet first 45, both taken on by Connor Malley. The midfielder hit one shot on target, and the other marginally wide.

Jack Rose was called into action briefly, but in truth, neither effort troubled him, and after an early scare, the hosts largely controlled the remainder of the tie.

The first test at the opposite end materialised in the 25th minute, as full-back Jake Vokins whipped an inviting corner towards the six yard area, where Tom O'Connor was arriving late.

Boro keeper Zach Hemming intervened, but the chance was presentable, before a similar interception was necessary in the opposite box, as Dan Ward burst onto the scene, and Saints' Yan Valery was across quickly to nullify the danger.

A few half chances were created by widemen Josh Sims and Tyreke Johnson towards the backend of the half, but neither were able to penetrate the Boro backline, as both sides re-entered the dressing rooms goalless at the break.

Needing to up the tempo, Saints started the second half brightly. Michael Obafemi had a chance to open the scoring, racing away down the right, but wasn't able to get a shot off, before captain Jones's determination earned a breakthrough.

The centre-half, making himself a nuisance as Will Smallbone delivered a corner from the left, reacted quickest to Hemming's fumble and fired the ball into the net to give the home side the advantage in the 71st minute.

Hemming had to see off another dead ball situation from Smallbone moments later, which evaded the heads of everyone in the box, and floated towards the far corner, where the Boro stopper sprawled and clawed the ball away.

But it wasn't long before the leaders had a second, and deservedly so. Obafemi slipped the ball through to the lively Barnes, who applied the finish to a well crafted move in stoppage time.

Faced one on one with Hemming, the forward kept a cool head, picked his spot and sent the ball rolling into the far corner to seal the game late on. A good start for Southampton's youngsters, then, as they clinched three points and the perfect start to their 2018/19 league campaign.

Southampton

1
Jack Rose (GK)
2
Yan Valery
3
Jake Vokins
4
Will Smallbone
5
Alfie Jones (C)
6
Thomas O'Connor
7
Josh Sims
Marcus Barnes (79′)
8
Callum Slattery
9
Michael Obafemi
10
Jake Hesketh
Ben Rowthorn (90′)
11
Tyreke Johnson
12
Christoph Klarer
13
Alex Cull
14
Ben Rowthorn
15
Harry Hamblin
16
Marcus Barnes

Middlesbrough

1
Zach Hemming (GK)
2
Enes Mahmutovic
Djed Spence (75′)
3
Nathan McGinley (C)
4
Kian Spence
5
Sam Stubbs
6
Nathan Dale
7
Stephen Walker
8
Connor Malley
Billal Brahimi (71′)
9
Tyrone O'Neill
10
Dan Ward
11
Patrick Reading
12
Djed Spence
14
Nathan Guru
15
Billal Brahimi
21
Bradley James
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