Southampton’s youngsters scrape past Eastleigh in unconvincing 1-0 victory


The famed Southampton academy made the short trip up the A335 to the Silverlake Stadium, where the match against Eastleigh provided a golden opportunity for the Saints starlets to impress boss, Ralph Hasenhüttl.

With the head honcho keen to utilise the academy and delve into under-23 resources for the upcoming campaign, Tuesday’s fixture represented a vital one for the Southampton youngsters, despite the pre-season friendly tag to it.

Meanwhile, Ben Strevens and his Eastleigh side were putting the icing on an efficient pre-season following a turbulent couple of months at the Silverlake. Witnessing nine exits, including the league’s top scorer Paul McCallum, Strevens and the board have done well to stabilise the club ahead of their first National League match of the season this Saturday.

Under-23 coach Radhi Jaidi selected a strong team to face the National League side, including the pair Kayne Ramsay and Callum Slattery, who both made their Premier League bow last campaign.

With the first team staff and Southampton hierarchy in attendance, referee James Durkin’s whistle got the game underway.

The opening stages were shaded by the home side who surprisingly dictated the lions share of possession. The Southampton youngsters threatened but lacked any real quality or end product in the final third.

However, Eastleigh started to give the ball away in dangerous areas of the pitch. The press of Southampton was certainly effective with the likes of Dan Nludlulu and Kornelius Hansen coming close but being unable to profit.

If they weren’t expecting it prior to kick-off, the Saints now knew they were up against it aerially. Rob Atkinson and Tyrone Barnett should have both opened the scoring in quick succession after finding themselves unmarked from deep crosses. Unfortunately from a Spitfire perspective, the pair couldn’t produce clean headers and test Harry Lewis.

On the half-hour mark Eastleigh came close again when Jack McKnight nutmeg Aaron O’Driscoll to find himself up against the Southampton shot-stopper Lewis. The man between the sticks raced off his line and was able to smother McKnight’s effort.

In what was becoming Spitfire dominance, it was de ja vu for Atkinson. The centre-half should have scored again from another cross but Lewis was on hand to turn the ball away from danger.


Atkinson rose highest but was unable to find the back of the net – Photo: @_GSPhotography

Despite Dare Olunfunwa hitting the post from a goalkeeper mishap, the Saints trudged down the tunnel minutes later under no illusion the home side had been on top.

Even with both team’s ringing the changes at half-time, Jaidi and his men could not halt the Spitfire momentum. Skipper Danny Hollands had an effort cleared off the line by a recovering Southampton defender before Sam Smart blazed the follow-up over the bar.

Following further changes from the home side, Eastleigh were essentially playing with a team a similar age to the Saints, having had all the experience substituted. Tyreke Johnson then forced a good reflex save from Ross Flitney after finding himself free at the back post.

With a quarter of an hour to go Southampton broke the deadlock after a neat one-two in the box. Goalscorer Nldundulu received the pass back from Hansen before finishing calmly past Flitney. Perhaps harsh on the Spitfires, who up until the wholesale changes had the Saints youngsters on the ropes for the most part.

In the dying embers, Jaidi’s men were forced to play with ten after Simon Kozak went off clutching his arm. The young centre-back appeared in tears as he dragged his way down the tunnel.

Team Line-ups:

Eastleigh (5-3-2): Ross Flitney; Joe Partington (Scorey 45′), Rob Atkinson (Green 45′), Alex Wynter (Boyce 45′), Callum Baughan; Cavaghn Miley (Clements 61′), Danny Hollands(c) (Waterfield 61′), Jack McKnight (Payne 45′), Sam Smart; Trialist (Rendell 61′), Ben Williamson (Bearwish 45′).

Southampton (5-2-1-2): Harry Lewis (Scott 45′); Dare Olunfunwa, Kameron Ledwidge (Kozak 81′), Tom O’Connor(c) (Tchapthet 65′), Aaron O’Driscoll, Kayne Ramsey; Alex Jankewitz (Watts 45′), Callum Slattery, Kornelius Hansen; Dan Nlundulu (Kieran Freeman 81′), Marcus Barnes (Johnson 45′.)


About Author

Football, Boxing and Cricket correspondent from Hampshire, covering southern sport. Editor and Head of Boxing at Prost International. Accreditated EFL & EPL journalist.

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