U23s Report: Saints 0-1 Wycombe

    The first 90 minutes of the new season took place at St Mary’s on Friday afternoon, as Championship side Wycombe edged out Southampton’s Under-23s 1-0.

    The game, which was evenly fought throughout, was eventually decided by a 58th minute header from Alex Samuel via a corner.

    Saints’ starting eleven featured many of the likes who spent last season out on loan; notably Alfie Jones, Josh Sims and Tom O’Connor.

    Several of the U23s regulars from last season also started, with Will Ferry and Dan N’Lundulu forming two thirds of the attack.

    With high winds and no apparent sign of any August heat, the opening stages of the game were a tightly contested match-up.

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    Up until the first drinks break there was very little between the two sides, both enjoying a fair share of possession but neither troubling each opposition goalkeeper.

    Saints’ first meaningful effort on goal came on the half-hour mark via a free-kick; Callum Slattery forcing David Stockdale in the Wycombe goal into a save to the keeper’s right-hand side.

    Another effort from a set-play came five minutes later; Slattery again involved floating a deep ball towards N’Lundulu, who couldn’t turn it home at the back post.

    Ferry was next to test Stockdale with three minutes to go before the interval, after feeding off of a Jake Hesketh through ball but seeing his low effort parried away.

    But it remained 0-0 until the break, with very little to report in the way of clear-cut chances.

    Both sides made changes following the interval, Saints going for a more youthful eleven than the one that featured during the first 45.

    Caleb Watts, Kazeem Olaigbe and Ramello Mitchell were amongst those who took to the field for Saints.

    The visitors came out after the break and saw a much larger portion of the ball than they had done during the first half.

    Playing against a much younger Saints side they made their experience count just shy of the hour mark, Samuel connecting to a Josh Parker corner to give the Blues the lead.

    Saints looked to respond, Watts twisting and turning his way through the Wycombe defence before curling an effort into the arms of the visitors’ goalkeeper.

    A side made up of largely Under-18s faces from the season just gone, the hosts were more of a match for their more experienced counterparts as the half wore on.

    Jayden Smith found space in midfield after 75 minutes before running at the Wycombe defence as Saints found an opportunity to counter, but his ball intended for Watts was cut out.

    But despite causing the visitors many problems, Gareth Ainsworth’s side held out for a 1-0 win at St Mary’s.


    2020/21 Fixtures: Saints start at Palace

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