11/05/2015: Saints U21s 2-0 Leicester U21s
Saints U21s saw off Leicester at St Mary's in their penultimate home match of the season. The hosts took a while to get going, but looked more than comfortable after going 1-0 up.
Martin Hunter started with an experienced line-up. James Ward-Prowse and Florin Gardos were among the names included. Leicester made a reasonable start to the game, fizzing the ball about well without really threatening close to goal. Saints took a while to get their rhythm going, but created more chances from counter attacks. On 18 Jake Hesketh played the ball square to Ryan Seager, who saw his effort blocked by the keeper Adam Smith. Ward-Prowse picked it up on the follow up, but Smith managed to smother the ball before he had a chance to shoot.
Saints enjoyed sustained spells of possession around the half-hour mark, building towards goal patiently. Hunter's side were slowly finding more joy in the final third and eventually took the lead on 36. Ryan Seager finished low at the near post from Sam Gallagher's through ball. Saints grew in confidence after the goal, looking sharper on the ball heading into half-time.
Saints were a cut above their opponents throughout the second half. Foxes left-back Ben Chilwell was the only visiting player to really impress. Substitute Sam McQueen somehow contrived to miss after going through one-on-one on 54. A few moments later Ward-Prowse shot just wide. Leicester's keeper then made a great save with his legs from Isgrove, before Seager missed on 67. The inevitable second goal finally arrived on 71. Dominic Gape shot into the bottom corner of the net following some good build-up play. Saints had further chances to win the game, but couldn't quite get that third goal. Leicester had some set pieces in dangerous positions, but were completely wasteful.
Saints are currently 8th in the table going into the final two games of the campaign. In truth the team are slightly unlucky not to be positioned slightly higher. Saints have performed to a high standard all season, and haven't always got what they deserved in every game. The cup was also prioritised for a few months, but with that out of the way now Saints still have the chance to end the season on a positive note and finish as high as 5th.
Cropper: Had a few routine saves to make. Well positioned throughout
Mugabi: Showed his skill once again as he continues to do well at right-back. Shooting needs work, but that's not what he's in the team for
McCarthy: Let very little get past him and organised the team well from the back. Stayed on his feet, making some well-timed challenges
Gardos: Composure and calmness allowed him to play his way out of trouble
Targett: Strong at both ends of the pitch. Always had the better of his man
Ward-Prowse: Had to battle hard in what was a physical midfield battle, but was able to show off his passing skills more later in the game as Saints started to take control
Gape: Solid box-to-box display capped off with a goal
Gallagher: Looked off the pace on the right-wing. Struggled to beat his man before coming off at half-time, but did provide the assist for the first goal
Hesketh: A deft first touch and some pinpoint passing
Isgrove: Back from a successful loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday. Pace caused Leicester problems all evening, but work on the ball initially a bit slack. Improved in this department greatly as the game went on
Seager: Penalty box movement first class yet again
McQueen: One glaring miss, but otherwise a decent second half showing
Sims: Only on the pitch for a matter of minutes
Saints - Seager (36) Gape (71)
Saints: Cropper, Mugabi, McCarthy, Gardos, Targett, Ward-Prowse, Gape, Gallagher (McQueen 46), Hesketh, Isgrove, Seager (Sims 88)
Subs not used: Isted, Cook, Sinclair
Leicester: Smith, Pearson, Moore, Sesay, Chillwell (King 68), McCourt, Cain (Miles 46), Rowley, Panayiotou, Stankevicius (Barmby 64) Elder
Subs not used: Maddison, Davis