U18 REACTION: Slow second-half start cost us, says Limbrick

By SFC Media time Sat 21 Feb U 18

Anthony Limbrick was left to rue the disappointing start to the second half, which ultimately cost his side dearly against Aston Villa on Saturday.

Rushian Hepburn-Murphy netted the opener for the visitors within seconds of the restart and added a second barely 10 minutes later, leaving Southampton facing a fight to salvage anything from the game.

Under-18s coach Limbrick again lamented his side’s wastefulness in front of goal and the manner in which they conceded, and said that Hepburn-Murphy’s first strike took the wind out of his team’s sails.

“I thought it was quite a tight first half, two teams trying to play good football,” he told Southampton’s official YouTube channel. “They dropped off us a little bit and let us play out from the back, and after the first ten minutes, I thought we started to play through the thirds quite well and just needed that little bit of edge, cutting edge, in and around their final third.

“I thought we had a couple of chances in the first half, but in a quite even first half, we said at half time we’ve got to make sure we stay tight, keep a clean sheet second half and go from there and hopefully we’ll get some chances.

“It killed us early on in the second half, conceding the goal from our own mistakes, which was disappointing.

“We got caught playing out with one (goal), where we need to be better when we’re playing out. There’s obviously always going to be a risk involved in playing out but I think we need to be better in there. We need to move the ball quicker and not get caught in possession when you are playing out, especially in the dangerous areas.”

Attention now turns to the play-offs, which will begin next month, and Limbrick is hopeful that lessons from the Villa defeat will be learned by the time the next wave of fixtures comes around.

He also emphasised exactly what could be at stake for his youngsters, as they look to progress to the next level at the club.

“I think there were plenty of positives to take out of it, but the boys at this level now – before they move up into Martin (Hunter)’s squad or the first team – need to understand how to handle periods of pressure in the game and solve the problems in the game, and at the moment we’re not quite doing that,” he said.

“We might have some good individual or some good team periods in the match but if you don’t defend properly and then give away goals, it makes it very hard.

“I think maybe a rest from the games programme for one week will do us good, and then we’re straight back into it from that, but there’s plenty to play for for these players, for their own individual selves, trying to get contracts or trying to progress up into Martin’s team and push on into the first team, so there’s still plenty to play for.

“In those games leading up towards the back end of the season, they can plant a lot of seeds in a lot of people’s minds for where they see them for next season, so they need to be performing, but I think if they perform well in the team and do the things right for the team, that will help them push on individually anyway.”

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