18/01/2016: Man United U21s 4-0 Saints U21s
Saints were soundly beaten against a much more experienced United side at Leigh Sports Village. Martin Hunter's side did really well to contain their opponents for much of the first-half, but a late goal completely changed the complexion of the game. Saints opened up in the second-half and couldn't cope with the skill and the vision of Adnan Januzaj and Will Keane.
Saints made an energetic start to the game, but soon adopted a more cautious approach. Bevis Mugabi notched an early chance inside the first minute, before Keane nodded over in the penalty area at the other end. Ryan Seager shot wide after turning well on the edge of the area. Saints then stuck 10 men behind the ball, challenging Man United to break them down. The home side looked clueless going forward. The football was rather pedestrian and United had no real plan to break through the wall of green shirts. Most of their efforts came from distance. Paulo Gazzaniga made a simple save from Keane on 20. A minute later Paddy McNair stung the Argentinian's gloves. Gazzaniga was called into action yet again soon after, making a brilliant save from the returning Januzaj. Saints showed a bit more adventure later in the half. Jake Hesketh shot wide of the near post on 38 after being played in by Seager on the break. Mugabi then powered a header against the crossbar. Just as the game appeared to be turning in Saints' player United took the lead. Januzaj finished from range via a deflection.
Saints were cut to pieces during the first 15 minutes of the second-half as Man United significantly increased their attacking intensity. Will Keane headed in from a corner on 52. The hosts continued to pepper Gazzaniga's goal with shots immediately after the goal. The Saints stopper made a superb double save on 57, first from Matthew Willock and then from Andreas Pereira. At the other end Hesketh produced some great skill out wide, but failed to find a Southampton man with his cross. Sam Gallagher made a good burst forward on the hour, but his cutback was also cleared. The tempo slowed slightly after the hour, but United remained in control. On 68 United were awarded a spot-kick after Jack Stephens pulled back Januzaj. Keane stepped up to make it 3-0. Januzaj grabbed the 4th on 79; shooting low into the bottom corner after Keane had turned Alfie Jones. Mugabi had one final effort for Saints late on, shooting straight at Romero.
Gazzaniga: Saints could have been out of it long before they were had he not made a series of good saves
Mugabi: Surprisingly involved in more Saints chances than anyone else. Generally solid defensively
Jones: Did ok in the first-half, but given the run-around by Keane and Januzaj later on
Stephens: Looked good in spells, but made yet another mistake which led to a goal
Debayo: Made a number of explosive runs out from the back, aiding Saints on the counter. Decent at the other end too
Reed: Defended brilliantly in the first-half, but relatively tame after the break
Gape: As with Reed, fairly strong in the first-half, but anonymous in the second
Gallagher: Quiet in the first-half, but looked much sharper after the break, producing some good skill
Hesketh: Drew some fouls, but often found the physical nature of the game quite difficult
Sims: An impressive defensive contribution in the first-half, but nullified quite effectively at the other end
Seager: Looked sharp on the rare occasions he was given the ball
Man United: Januzaj (45, 79) Keane (53, 69)
Man United line-up: Romero, Varela, Williams, McNair, Love, Fosu-Mensah (Riley 72), Januzaj (El Fitouri 81), Willock, A Pereira, Weir, Keane
Subs not used: J Pereira, Rashford, Redmond
Saints line-up: Gazzaniga, Mugabi, Jones, Stephens, Debayo, Reed, Gape, Gallagher, Hesketh, Sims, Seager
Subs not used: Lewis, Cook. Little, Wilkin, Olomola