28/09/2015: Saints U21s 0-2 Sunderland U21s
Saints U21s went down to their first defeat of the season against Sunderland at Staplewood. The game was noticeably much slower than last week's thriller against Reading. Saints lacked ambition and any sort of cutting edge going forward, and were made to pay by a more clinical visiting side.
Sunderland effectively nullified Saints as an attacking force for much of the first-half. The home side did make a reasonable start, but only created a handful of half chances. Ryan Seager was presented with a good opening on 3, testing the keeper with a low shot. Jake Hesketh had a shot blocked after Josh Sims had claimed the ball back on the left just outside the box.
Sunderland took the lead on 12. George Brady headed in unmarked from a corner. Sunderland looked more confident in possession after the goal. Saints in contrast were slow and unadventurous going forward. The visitors were wasteful from every other corner they had in the first-half. On 15 Lynden Gooch saw his effort tipped over by Paulo Gazzaniga.
Saints got a better grip of the midfield about halfway through the first-half. Hesketh dragged a shot wide on 21, before Sam McQueen saw his low strike saved comfortably by the Sunderland keeper. Bevis Mugabi had a wayward effort on 41. Saints struggled to find space in the attacking third, with the front four finding themselves too isolated whenever they were in possession near goal. Sunderland added to the home side's misery not long before the break when they were handed a penalty. Josh Debayo kicked at the back of Duncan Watmore's leg. The same player stepped up to send Gazzaniga the wrong way.
Saints were a bit more positive in the second half, with the full-backs given greater licence to push on. McQueen made a brilliantly timed run into the box on 50, beating the offside trap before lobbing the ball over the bar. Saints missed a golden opportunity to get back into it two minutes later when Sims was bundled over in the box. Seager saw his spot-kick saved and Saints struggled to create too many more good chances. The home side dominated possession, but were too slow in the final third. Jason McCarthy's 61st minute header was never going to trouble the keeper. Mikael Mandarin almost added a third for the visitors on 77, cutting inside before shooting at Gazzaniga. On 82 Debayo curled his free-kick straight at the keeper. Sims then played a dangerous ball across goal, but nobody was there to get on the end of it. Sunderland fully deserved their win. It just wasn't Saints' night.
Gazzaniga: Made a couple of reasonable saves
Mugabi: A few good give and go's, but on the whole an unremarkable display
McCarthy: Wasn't really tested to a great degree
Caulker: Looked reasonably composed on the ball, but could have done better for the first goal conceded
Debayo: Made some good last ditch tackles, but let himself down by giving away the penalty
Gape: Delivery not quite to the usual high standard
Little: Some good short passing in tight areas, but long ball game and defensive work less impressive
McQueen: Unusually wasteful
Hesketh: Sunderland's physical approach limited him a fair bit, but he was still involved in some of Saints' best attacking moves
Sims: Pressed well and showed glimpses of quality, but invariably found himself outnumbered
Seager: Penalty miss kind of summed up his evening. Very quiet
Isgrove: Provided a few deep crosses, but unable to breach the Sunderland defence
Sunderland: Brady (12) Watmore (42)
Saints line-up: Gazzaniaga, Mugabi, McCarthy, Caulker, Debayo, Gape, Little, McQueen (Isgrove 71), Hesketh, Sims, Seager
Subs not used: Isted, Wood, Jones, Olomola
Sunderland line-up: Stryjek, J Robson (Blinco 75), T Robson, Agnew, Ledger, Brady, Mavrias (E Robson 72), Smith (McEvoy 90), Mandron, Gooch, Watmore
Subs not used: Greenwood, Purvis