Southampton Under-18s might have lost their penultimate game of the season, but coach Craig Fleming was able to reflect on an encouraging performance from his side.
Saints were beaten 1-0 by Manchester United at J. Davidson Stadium, as an Indy Boonen goal shortly after half-time separated the teams in a match that the visitors had dominated for large spells.
Fleming saw his side create a number of good opportunities, particularly in the first half, when they hit the post and the crossbar. They also limited United to very few opportunities, although were punished by their more clinical opponents.
“First half, it was probably one of our best performances of the season,” said Fleming. “With and without the ball I thought we were excellent. We were very solid and created three, four gilt-edged chances, which unfortunately we didn’t take. We hit the crossbar, we hit the post, we missed a couple of good opportunities, and, unfortunately, we got punished for it in the end.”
While the result was ultimately disappointing, Fleming explained it was the performance that was most important to him.
“That’s what we’ve been preaching all along, that the results are important, but it’s more performances and more about individuals improving through the year, and I think the have done,” he said.
“Today’s performance, especially first half, was probably one of the best we’ve had this season.
“They probably had two, maybe three chances the whole game. Fair play to them, they were quite clinical with the one they did get. A great ball and a tidy finish, but that’s probably the most improved part of our game throughout the season.
“The fact that now, defensively, we look a lot more solid, certainly mentally we’re a lot more resilient – in previous weeks we’ve lacked that little bit of creativity, but today, in the first half, we created three very clear-cut chances and probably another three half-chances.”