11/01/2016: Saints U21s 1-2 Liverpool U21s
Saints' U21 side were unfortunate to go down to a 2-1 defeat at Staplewood on Monday. Martin Hunter's side played with plenty of variety, building from the back and pressing from the front. Saints could have been out of sight with the chances they created, but that lack of clinical finishing combined with errors in the back allowed Liverpool to steal the victory.
The first-half was a really end to end entertaining game. Saints concentrated on maintaining possession early on, but also pressed well and passed the ball crisply. Harrison Reed's 7th minute shot skimmed up off the wet surface before flying just past the post. The same player then had a free-kick deflect over on to the top of the net. On 16 Jack Stephens made amends after giving the ball away, by clearing a shot off the line. Sam Gallagher had the ball in the net on 27, only to be ruled offside. Josh Sims was denied a penalty after Saints' pressing had presented them with an unlikely opening. Harry Wilson was proving to be a real nuisance for Saints in the Liverpool attack. He scored the equaliser from the spot, shooting into the corner beyond the reach of Paolo Gazzaniga. Stephens gave away the penalty, making a rash challenge on Jon Flanagan.
Saints were very much on top during the first 15 minutes of the second-half. Seager shot straight at the keeper just after the break after taking a few touches just outside of the area. On 55 Reed had another set piece opportunity; this time hitting the post after Seager had been hauled down on the edge of the area. The action quietened down after the hour. Seager created an opening out of nothing on 77, shooting over after Saints had hit Liverpool on the counter. Saints began to tire during the final 15, with Liverpool doing just enough to take advantage. On 85 Gazzaniga misjudged Ryan Kent's free-kick, which flew through his grasp via a deflection off Alfie Jones. Saints looked spent by the end, with Liverpool creating a few more openings during the closing stages. Daniel Trickett-Smith clipped the post on 88.
Gazzaniga: Distribution very good. Started a few attacks with his long kicks, but ultimately let himself down with the mistake for Liverpool's winner
Mugabi: Steady enough in defence and got forward when required
Jones: Not completely faultless, but solid enough
Stephens: Made a few silly errors, but general play was good. Looked comfortable on the ball
Debayo: One of his better performances. Offered decent support going forward
Gape: Looked much more comfortable back in midfield. Combined well with Reed, displaying a good range of passing
Reed: Offered great protection to the back four once again and very sharp on the ball
Gallagher: First match back after returning from an unfulfilling loan stint at MK Dons. Stuck out on the wing, didn't show too much quality for all his hard work
Hesketh: Passing in tight areas very impressive
Sims: Some great defensive tackles and more involved at the other end than he was in the previous match
Seager: Much more lively than he was in the previous encounter against Chelsea
Olomola: Never really got to grips with the pace of the game after coming on
Saints: Reed (33)
Liverpool: Wilson (41) Kent (84)
Saints line-up: Gazzaniga, Mugabi, Jones, Stephens, Debayo, Gape, Reed, Gallagher (Olomola 76), Hesketh, Sims, Seager
Subs not used: Lewis, Cook, O'Connor, Little
Liverpool line-up: Fulton, Flanagan (Lennon 46), Hart, Polgar, Maguire, Virtue (Whelan 66), Wilson, Chirivella, Sinclair (Trickett-Smith 87), O'Hanlon, Kent
Subs not used: Firth, Dhanda