U23 Report: Blackburn 0-0 Saints

By SFC Media Mon 26 Feb Blackburn v Saints
Photo by James Bridle | Michael Obafemi
Mon 26 Feb 7PM
Premier League Cup
Blackburn
0
Southampton
0
Simmonds [45'] Travis [73']
Vokins [63']
Referee: Thomas Bramall | Venue: Lancashire County FA | Attendance: 0

Southampton Under-23s were held to a 0-0 draw at their Blackburn Rovers counterparts in the Premier League Cup, as both teams advanced to the last 16 of the competition.

Saints came into the game knowing qualification was assured, but that three points were needed to lift themselves above their opponents and claim top spot in Group B.

They came close to achieving that, as they dominated the second half, but neither side could find a way through, with both looking strong ahead of the last 16.

With the game being played in freezing temperatures at Lancashire FA’s County Ground, it was hardly the ideal start, as Joe Grayson went down with an injury in the first seconds of the match, necessitating a lengthy stoppage that ended with the Blackburn defender being taken off on a stretcher and replaced with Isaac Whitehall.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it took a good while for the game to really get going, with neither side able to carve out a decent opportunity in the early stages.

The first major threat arrived in the 19th minute, as Okera Simmonds escaped down the inside-left channel and drove into the area, but Yan Valery tracked back superbly and muscled the Rovers forward off the ball just as he went to shoot.

Saints themselves went close to an opener in the 25th minute, as Blackburn keeper Charlie Albinson spilled an in-swinging Callum Slattery corner, but, as the ball fell goalwards, it was cleared off the line.

Another stoppage followed shortly after, as Valery went down in some pain with what appeared to be an ankle injury following a challenge from Simmonds. After some lengthy treatment, the right-back was able to continue, but only for a short period, as Tom O’Connor came off the bench to replace him.

With ten minutes to half-time, Saints nearly broke the deadlock, as Nathan Tella slid in a beautiful ball from the left wing that picked out the run of Michael Obafemi through the middle, but his first-time shot was turned wide brilliantly by Charlie Albinson in the Rovers goal, who had also saved well at his near post from the Saints forward shortly before.

There was to be an even better stop at the other end, though, as Rovers were awarded a penalty in added time at the end of the half, when Aaron O’Driscoll was judged to have tripped Lewis Mansell in the area.

Captain Lewis Hardcastle stepped up to take it, with Jack Rose springing superbly to his left to get a hand to the low shot and divert it away.

If that wasn’t enough, the Saints keeper produced another impressive stop from Hardcastle five minutes into the second half, tipping over the midfielder’s dipping strike from 20 yards.

At the other end, Siph Mdlalose tested Albinson with a low shot on the turn from 18 yards, moments before he was taken off to be replaced by Tyreke Johnson, as the game neared the hour mark.

Johnson’s impact was quickly felt, as he whipped in an inviting low cross from the left in the 63rd minute, which Tella controlled in the area, but his strike from close range was diverted wide by Albinson.

The Rovers keeper was nearly left red-faced midway through the second half, though, as he misjudged a clearance, hitting it low against Obafemi, before watching as the ball spun just wide of there post.

He followed that aberration with a fine double stop from Tella, though, after Obafemi was able to find his teammate inside the area.

Saints had the hosts well under pressure as the game approached 90 minutes, with O’Connor testing Albinson with a long-range strike, while Will Smallbone shot straight at him from the edge of the area after great work down the left from Johnson, but the visitors could not find a way through, as they had to settle for second place in their group.

The last 16 now awaits, though…

Blackburn

1
Charlie Albinson (GK)
2
Alex Wood
3
Lewis Travis
4
James Connolly
5
Charley Doyle
6
Joe Grayson
Isaac Whitehall (4′)
7
Callum Dolan
8
Lewis Hardcastle (C)
9
Lewis Mansell
Sam Burns (57′)
10
Harvey Whyte
11
Okera Simmonds
12
Tyler Magloire
13
Oliver Byrne
14
Isaac Whitehall
15
Sam Burns

Southampton

1
Jack Rose (GK)
2
Yan Valery
Tom O'Connor (32′)
3
Jake Vokins
4
Ben Rowthorn
5
Christoph Klarer
6
Aaron O'Driscoll
7
Siph Mdlalose
Tyreke Johnson (59′)
8
Callum Slattery (C)
9
Michael Obafemi
10
Will Smallbone
11
Nathan Tella
12
Will Wood
13
Kingsley Latham
14
Tom O'Connor
15
Tyreke Johnson
16
Olufela Olomola
Rose: "We know we can go far"
Blackburn v Saints

Rose: "We know we can go far"

Saints stopper confident of Premier League Cup success.

Tue 27 Feb
U23s Gallery: Blackburn 0-0 Saints U23 Highlights: Blackburn 0-0 Saints
Top Instagram Posts of 2018/19

Top Instagram Posts of 2018/19

Check out our top 5 Instagram moments from the season.

1 hour ago
Saints Foundation enjoy Primary Stars tournament 2019 Gallery: Best fan photos of the season!