12/02/2015: Saints U21s 3-2 Watford U21s
Saints U21s progressed to the semi-finals of the cup with another impressive performance against Watford. Martin Hunter's side will come up against Derby at home in the next round for a place in the final.
The clash presented fans with another opportunity to see some up and coming youngsters, but there was also some first team interest. Filip Djuricic - fresh off making his senior debut a night earlier against West Ham - started in behind Sam Gallagher, who lined up as a centre forward in his 3rd match since his comeback from injury.
Saints made an explosive start to the game, taking a 2nd minute lead. Filip Djuricic played a neat through ball to Jake Sinclair on the edge of the area. Sinclair beat the offside trap before dinking the ball over the onrushing keeper.
Saints looked comfortable in possession for the most part, building from the back. Ryan Seager curled the ball just over the bar from outside the area on 19. A few minutes later Djuricic combined with Sinclair again, with the latter shooting straight at the keeper.
Saints left gaps in front of defence early on, leaving the back four with a tough task at times. The quartet stood up well to most of Watford's attacks, but were caught out down the left on 35 when Niall Mason gave away possession. Bernard Mensah strode into the area before slotting low past Paulo Gazzaniga. Saints briefly lost their attacking rhythm, but ended the half strongly, with Hesketh shooting low at the keeper, having been fed by Djuricic.
Saints made a flying start to the 2nd half, scoring straight from kick-off. Seager's cross was palmed out by the Watford keeper. Djuricic had his first effort blocked on the line, before finishing at the second attempt. The Serbian had the ball in the net once again on 58, only to see it ruled out for offside.
On 63 Gazzaniga got down well to save from a Watford free-kick. The Hornets attempted to get the ball forward quickly, but weren't quite as slick as the home side. The third Saints goal resulted from the best move of the match. Sinclair turned his man on the halfway line before driving forward. He then fed Jake Hesketh, who cut the ball across goal for substitute Josh Sims, who completed a simple tap in. Seager had an effort ruled offside on 88. Hesketh also went close in stoppage time before Watford pulled one back. There was no time for them to push for an equaliser however.
Gazzaniga: Might have done better for the first Watford goal. Standard of kicking mixed
Mason: A few good pieces of defensive play, but distribution often wayward and forward runs a bit predictable
Cook: Looked a bit nervy early on, but did improve. Usually took the simple option in possession
McCarthy: Looked confident bringing the ball out from the back and showed his usual leadership qualities
Wood: Possibly Saints' best player. Strong going forward and some great last ditch tackles
Gape: Provided energy in midfield and made some intelligently timed runs
Flannigan: Back in midfield having sat on Ronald Koeman's bench for the last two first team games. Forced off with an early injury. Expected to be out until next season
Seager: Looked sharp throughout
Djuricic: Made space for himself with a great first touch. Technically ability obvious. Heavily involved in most of the chances until he came off
Sinclair: Displayed some good skill in and around the box. Involved in a couple of the goals
Gallagher: Struggled to get into the game. Didn't really impose himself on proceedings
Hesketh: Classy as ever on the ball. Always positive
Sims: Impressed in the time he was on. Pace and skill opened up the Watford defence on numerous occasions
Little: Started a couple of attacks
Saints - Sinclair (1) Djuricic (46) Sims (82)
Watford - Mensah (35) Folivi (90)
Saints: Gazzaniga, Mason, Cook, McCarthy, Wood, Gape, Flannigan (Hesketh 18), Seager, Djuricic (Little 68), Sinclair, Gallagher (Sims 76)
Subs not used: Britt, Mugabi
Watford: Gilmartin, Young (Ammann 66), Doherty, O’Nien, Savic, Johnson, Lewis, Byers, Mensah, Folivi, Martin
Subs not used: Rowan, Kyprianou, Otudeko, Obi