U23s Report: Saints 1-2 Watford

By SFC Media Fri 29 Sep Saints v Watford
Photo by James Bridle | Jonathan Afolabi
Fri 29 Sep 7PM
Premier League Cup
Southampton
1
Watford
2
Slattery [78' pen]
Folivi [23' pen] Dja Djedje [65']
Obafemi [90']
Referee: Adrian Quelch | Venue: Staplewood Campus | Attendance: 100

Southampton Under-23s slipped to a narrow defeat in their Premier League Cup opener in a tale of three penalties at Staplewood.

Radhi Jaïdi’s side scored one and missed one, but were unable to rescue the game having found themselves 2-0 down deep into the second half.

Michael Folivi scored the first of the spot-kicks, benefiting from a dubious decision in his favour, before Marcus Barnes was denied by Watford keeper Nathan Gartside.

Brice Dja Djedje doubled the Hornets’ lead 20 minutes into the second period, and the visitors were hanging on after Callum Slattery converted from the spot 12 minutes from time.

The young Saints will feel they should have edged in front inside two minutes.

Barnes found space in behind the Watford defence on the Southampton right and crossed deep for Tyreke Johnson, who rose well at the far post.

As Johnson’s header looped towards the corner of the net, Jonathan Afolabi stretched out a leg in an attempt to provide the finishing touch, but could only toe the ball against the upright from close range.

The hosts were unable to build on their bright start, despite the Watford backline looking susceptible to crosses.

The Hornets threatened for the first time in the 17th minute, but goalkeeper Jack Rose stood tall to gather Dion Pereira’s driven shot.

The visitors were growing in confidence and took the lead from the penalty spot when Folivi tricked his way into the box, before referee Adrian Quelch ruled he had been held back with a decision so soft even the striker looked bemused.

Folivi kept his nerve to score straight down the middle, before Saints got away with what looked a much more clear-cut penalty appeal soon after.

Quelch had another big decision to make when Afolabi reacted quickest to Johnson’s low cross and was clearly tripped by Charlie Rowan.

Up stepped Barnes, but Gartside guessed correctly, diving to his right to deny the winger with a fine save.

There was greater intensity about Saints after the restart, as Slattery released Johnson, whose low cross just skipped up awkwardly in front of Afolabi and the chance eluded him.

But Watford then enjoyed a good spell in search of a second goal.

Saints’ Ollie Cook slid full length to block a low shot from Dennon Lewis, whose dangerous corner was nodded inches wide by Max Ryan, before Dja Djedje lashed over when he just needed some composure from 15 yards.

Unfortunately for Saints, Dja Djedje was just getting his eye in, and thundered home a crisp strike from 20 yards to leave Rose no chance and Jaïdi’s young charges with a mountain to climb.

But the hosts showed their character and set up a grandstand finish when Slattery picked himself up after being barged in the back to dispatch an unerring spot-kick into the bottom corner.

Saints piled on the pressure, but Gartside saved brilliantly from Aaron O’Driscoll’s close-range header before Slattery rifled over in stoppage time.

Southampton

1
Jack Rose (GK)
2
Richard Bakary
Yan Valery (61′)
3
Will Wood
4
Armarni Little
5
Ollie Cook
Thomas O'Connor (75′)
6
Aaron O'Driscoll
7
Marcus Barnes
Michael Obafemi (75′)
8
Alfie Jones (C)
9
Jonathan Afolabi
10
Callum Slattery
11
Tyreke Johnson
12
Yan Valery
13
Alex Cull
14
Ben Rowthorn
15
Thomas O'Connor
16
Michael Obafemi

Watford

1
Nathan Gartside (GK)
2
Andrew Eleftheriou (C)
3
Brandon Mason
4
Charlie Rowan
5
Max Ryan
6
Joy Mukena
7
Carl Stewart
8
Brice Dja Djedje
9
Michael Folivi
David Sesay (86′)
10
Dion Pereira
Ash Charles (69′)
11
Dennon Lewis
Randell Williams (61′)
12
David Sesay
13
James Hoskins
14
Ash Charles
15
Randell Williams
16
Harvey Bradbury
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