15/01/2015: Saints U21s 2-0 Norwich U21s
Saints U21s put in another impressive showing, seeing off Norwich to advance to the quarter finals of the cup. In contrast to the game at Fulham on Monday, Saints started slowly, but finished strongly.
First team call-ups for Jason McCarthy and Jake Hesketh meant Martin Hunter had slightly less experience in his side compared to the team that travelled to Motspur Park earlier in the week. Jake Sinclair returned following an unfulfilling loan stint at Hibernian.
Saints had some decent spells of possession early on, but Norwich attacked with greater purpose during the first 20 minutes. Raymond Grant shot over the bar from a free-kick, before Louis Ramsey's deflected effort went wide. Saints soon got their act together, producing some great combination play in the final third. The home side took the lead on 22 minutes. Sam McQueen started the move with a powerful drive forward. He then fed Sinclair, who cut the ball across goal for Ryan Seager to tap in. McQueen showed his strength again on the half-hour mark, dispossessing an opponent before shooting straight at the keeper.
Saints had control of the game for pretty much the entire second half. The home side continued to play with plenty of swagger going forwards, and looked more composed at the back following a slightly nervy start. Josh Sims missed a sitter, having been played in one-on-one by Dominic Gape. McQueen forced the keeper into a fingertip save, having cut in from the right. Sinclair brilliantly picked out Sims at the far post, who had his subsequent effort blocked by the keeper. Then on 82 Seager's brilliant curling effort crashed against the post. McQueen was there to follow up for 2-0. Seager came very close to making it 3-0 late on, nodding over from Jake Flannigan's cross. Norwich were barely in the game during the second half, but did hit the bar from a free-kick in stoppage time.
Another enjoyable display from the U21s. They really are a joy to watch at the moment. Gape, McQueen and Seager in particular have come on leaps and bounds recently, while Sims also looks very much at home at this level now. Encouraging signs for anyone worried about a lack of depth in the first team squad.
Britt: Looked pretty comfortable throughout. No major saves to make
Flannigan: Made a couple of decent runs down the right flank
Cook: Got outmuscled a couple of times, but read the game well and strong in the air
Mugabi: Sloppy early on, but made amends with some clever defending later in the match
Debayo: A few minor errors, but generally competed well
Gape: Orchestrated a lot of Saints' good attacking play with his pinpoint passes
Little: Not everything he tried came off, but battled hard in midfield
Sims: Made some excellent solo runs. Missed chance the only blemish on an otherwise very good performance
McQueen: Always positive in possession. Direct running caused Norwich plenty of problems
Sinclair: Sharp in spells. Vision excellent in the final third
Seager: A constant menace in the Norwich penalty area. Movement and technique superb throughout
Willard: Thrown on late in the game
Barnes: As with Willard, introduced to eat up some time
Slattery: Prodigious schoolboy given his first outing at this level deep in stoppage time
Saints - Seager (22) McQueen (82)
Saints: Britt, Flannigan, Cook, Mugabi, Debayo, Gape, Little, Sims, McQueen (Slattery 90), Sinclair (Willard 88), Seager (Barnes 90)
Subs not used: Johns, Mason
Norwich: Matthews, Hall-Johnson, Efete, Ramsay, McFadden (Fox 44), Gafaiti, Norman, McGrandles (Awuah 59) Ashley-Seal (Byrne-Hewitt 68), Grant, Kelly