25/01/2012: Saints Under 18's 1-5 Nottingham Forest Under 18's

Saints crashed out of the FA Youth Cup following a disappointing 5-1 home defeat to Nottingham Forest. The result certainly didn't reflect the balance of play, with both teams enjoying an equal share of possession and chances. Forest were far more clinical though, with the excellent Patrick Bamford netting four goals. Saints on the other hand squandered a number of great opportunities. The home side also committed too many individual errors, with the back four badly positioned on many occasions. Saints lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation at kick off, with Corby Moore and James Ward-Prowse sitting in behind Calum Chambers, Joe Curtis and Sam McQueen, with Jake Sinclair alone up front. Forest saw more of the ball early on, but Saints enjoyed the better chances. Sinclair should have made it 1-0, but his effort hit the bar. On 22 minutes Forest went ahead through Bamford, following a mix up at the back. Saints created great openings throughout the game, but were made to pay for their mistakes at the other end by the lethal Bamford. First team manager Steve Cotterill was in attendance at St Marys, and couldn't have failed to be impressed with his young striker. With Forest seriously struggling for goals at the moment, surely Bamford deserves a run in the first team soon.

While it was obviously very disappointing to go out of the Youth Cup with such a heavy defeat, nobody should be too downhearted. The development of the players is far more important than results. In Luke Shaw and James Ward-Prowse Saints have two genuine stars of the future. They stood out above the rest, and have all the qualities to go on and play at the highest level. That's not to say any of the others won't. Many of the lads involved are only 17, a few are still 16. There was a little naivety about the team's play, but things like decision making and timing will only improve with age. This was a minor setback, but the future is still very bright for many of these youngsters.

Attendance: 814

Match Ratings:

Mowthorpe: 6. Was always going to find it tough against such a lethal finisher

Stephens: 7. Fairly solid defensively, and decent going forward too.

Turnbull: 6. Was up against it with Bamford too strong to handle. On the plus side, did look good bringing the ball out from defence.

Mugabi: 6. Not quite as comfortable on the ball as those around him, but pretty solid defensively. Made a few brilliantly timed tackles.

Shaw: 7. Left gaps at the back on occasions, but excellent going forward. Made a number of good mazy dribbles down the wing.

Moore: 7. Tidy without being particularly spectacular.

Ward-Prowse: 8. A class act on the ball yet again.

Chambers: 6. Looked fairly skilful, but wasted a number of good chances to score.

Curtis: 6. Involved in some decent link up play before coming off early in the second half.

McQueen: 7. Put in some excellent crosses.

Sinclair: 7. Worked hard throughout, but struggled in front of goal early on, and was often muscled off the ball too easily. Much improved in the second half, with a deserved goal from his efforts.

Substitutes:

Gape: 6. Worked one decent opening for himself before firing narrowly wide.

Rowe: 6. Showed off some great skill down the wing, although his final product could have been better.