U18 Preview: Saints vs Stoke

By SFC Media Fri 09 Nov Saints v Stoke
Photo by James Bridle

Get the lowdown of the young Saints' weekend opponents, Stoke City, as they look to continue winning ways in the Under-18 Premier League Cup...

THE MATCH

Southampton U18 vs Stoke U18
U18 Premier League Cup
Staplewood Campus
Saturday 10th November, 11am GMT

Two evenly matched teams on paper. Stoke placed eighth in the Premier League north, and the young Saints in the same position in the southern equivalent.

Paul Hardyman's side enjoyed success over Reading, for the second time this term, last weekend, running out 3-1 winners, while Stoke were 3-0 victors at Newcastle.

Indeed, a deeper look at both sides reveals that all-round stats are also comparable, and Hardyman recognises that, if recent form is to ring true, it will make for an evenly contested game at Staplewood this Saturday.

Saints will remain confident, though, having won four of their last five encounters, and seem to have put a relatively slow start to their campaign firmly behind them.

FLASHBACK: Reading 1-3 Saints (Nov 2018)

Taymar Fleary, Sean Brennan and Enzo Robise were all on target against Reading last weekend, with star of the show, keeper Jack Bycroft, also saving from the penalty spot. 

COACH'S THOUGHTS

Paul Hardyman recognises that Saturday's opposition, Stoke City, with a similar record to his young side, will present plenty of challenges this weekend, but is confident Saints, on a good run of form themselves, can more than match their Staffordshire counterparts.

"Our core focus is always improvement," he began. "We've been working on ball retention, because we've been guilty of giving the ball away cheaply at times.

"Defensively, we looked solid at Reading. Conceded once, and Jack Bycroft was called into action more than I would have liked, but overall I was pleased.

"Speaking to the lads this week, we've continued to reiterate the message that you should want to do well in every game, every competition, you enter.

"We want to win games, but we want to win them playing the right way. Stoke have a similar record to us, it's clear that they work very hard. We must match that.

"You have to fight for the right to play, and that's the mentality that we're trying to breed in these young players."

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