16/03/2015: Saints U21s 2-0 Liverpool U21s
Saints U21s overcame Liverpool at Staplewood on Monday night. Martin Hunter named a very experienced team, with Florin Gardos, James Ward-Prowse and Filip Djuricic among those dropping down. Will Wood was the only starter without a first team appearance to his name.
Saints took a while to adapt to the wet surface, committing a few minor errors in possession early on. The home some threatened their opponents with some direct play. Jason McCarthy had the first real opening, driving a shot at the keeper on 9 minutes.
Liverpool looked a lot slicker on the ball, but failed to stretch Saints' back-line. Ryan Seager should have scored after intercepting a back pass, but could only scoop the ball wide. Liverpool attempted to play out from the back, but were unsettled by Saints' pressing.
On 33 Harrison Reed turned in his own half before feeding Sam Gallagher with a long through ball. Gallagher's effort wasn't strong enough to beat Dan Ward. Saints dominated the final stages of the first half, but couldn't find the breakthrough. Isgrove blasted over on 43.
Liverpool had their first proper chance on 47. Daniel Trickett-Smith's curling shot was caught by Paulo Gazzaniga. Sergi Canos had an even better chance on 53 as Liverpool found some joy on the counter. Saints slowly improved as the half went on. Ward-Prowse shot straight at the keeper on 59. Six minutes later the home side were ahead. Ryan Seager finished well from the edge of the area from Djuricic's through ball. Gallagher thought he had made it 2-0 soon after, only to see his effort ruled out for offside. Ward-Prowse missed again from distance on 73.
Liverpool's chances were dealt a further blow when Harry Wilson was sent off for dissent. Ward-Prowse nearly scrambled a second, following up on Jake Sinclair's initial effort. Saints finally wrapped it up on 86 when Isgrove fired in low from range. Given the level of experience on show you might have expected a better performance from Saints, but overall the hosts just about deserved the win.
Gazzaniga: Distribution good. Not called into action too often
McCarthy: Reverted to right-back. Showed some skill on the ball
Gardos: Looked a bit awkward in possession on occasions, but no major errors
Wood: Passing a bit wayward at times. A reasonable defensive showing
Targett: Some good direct runs and set piece delivery
Ward-Prowse: Back in the deep lying midfield role. Displayed a good range of passing
Reed: Intelligent use of possession
Gallagher: Not that influential out wide, but involved in a couple of chances after drifting inwards. Put in some good defensive work too
Djuricic: Frustrating at times early on, but more useful in the 2nd half, with some good hold up play and an assist for the first goal
Isgrove: Perhaps Saints' most impressive player on the night. Pressed well and utilised his pace and skill on the flank
Seager: Quiet at times, but another good finish to get Saints going
Sinclair: Bright in the brief period he was on
McQueen: Managed to get a shot off after coming on deep into stoppage time
Saints - Seager (65) Isgrove (86)
Saints: Gazzaniga, McCarthy, Gardos, Wood, Targett, Ward-Prowse, Reed, Gallagher (McQueen 90), Djuricic (Sinclair 75), Isgrove, Seager
Subs not used: Britt, Mugabi, Gape
Liverpool: Ward, McLaughlin (Smith 61), Maguire, Cleary, Williams, Stewart, Canos, Chirivella, Trickett-Smith (Hart 80), Brannaghan (Ejaria 80), Wilson
Subs not used: Viouroux, Brewitt