U23 Report: Stoke 0-2 Saints

By SFC Media time Mon 29 Jan Stoke v Saints
Photo by James Bridle | Tyreke Johnson
Mon 29 Jan 7PM
Premier League 2 - Division 2
Stoke City
Hesketh [52'] Slattery [58']
Banks [35']
yellow card
Valery [70']
Venue: St George's Park | Attendance: 100

Southampton overpowered their Stoke City counterparts at St George's Park, completing the perfect away performance with second-half strikes from Jake Hesketh and Callum Slattery.

The latter had missed a penalty kick in the first period, but soon expiated for his earlier error, adding a second to Hesketh's unstoppable opener.

The slick surface of St George's Park allowed for a fast paced opening, with both side's showing early attacking intent.

The movement of Stoke's Daniel Jarvis from the left, drifting inside and carrying the ball shrewdly, meant Southampton had to retreat on occasion, but the danger was being snuffed out effectively enough.

Opposite number Josh Sims was causing a similar defensive headache for the hosts. Twice the Saints winger freed himself down the right, using a combination of pace and power to beat Cameron McJannet, but was unfortunate to overrun the ball.

Always an outlet, Sims had the visitors continuously on the front foot, as Aaron O'Driscoll met a Will Wood corner and narrowly turned over in the 15th minute.

The remainder of the half ebbed and flowed, without too much by way of goalmouth action. Slattery was linking well with Sims, while introducing Hesketh to Saints' attacking play, but the final pass often lacked accuracy.

Tyrese Campbell flashed an effort goalward for the hosts, before Ryan Hill's low square cross presented a chance for Julien Ngoy, but Jack Rose intervened smartly.

The 43rd minute presented the best opportunity of a cagey game to Slattery, as Hesketh was upended in the box. Penalty awarded, penalty saved.

The midfielder stepped up to the 12-yard spot with confidence, settled himself, fired low, before watching Jakob Haugaard's outstretched glove palm the effort to safety.

Unlucky not to enter the break with an advantage, Saints soon atoned for their first-half misgivings. No sooner had Hesketh broken the deadlock, Slattery had doubled the away side's lead.

The first, an expertly dispatched drive from 20-yards, left Haugaard motionless, with Wood the architect. Expressive in his running, the full-back drove forward, committing men, before allowing Hesketh the space to complete the job. The bullet shot found the top corner with power and precision, in equal measure.

Moments later, Slattery, keen to compensate for his earlier miss, was proportionately as clinical. Latching on to the ball in the box, the midfielder cooly side-footed in to the far corner, giving Saints a comfortable two goal cushion.

Ten minutes from time, and Sims had a chance to seal it. On the break, Hesketh's characteristic vision spotted the late dash of Sims, who cut inside before firing low. For all its endeavour, and to mark a fine performance, the effort perhaps deserved more, as the midfielder then proceeded to make way for the oncoming Nathan Tella.

A brief shift in momentum meant that Saints had to absorb some pressure late on, as the hosts opted to go long in search of a leveller. Rose, irregularly called in to action, had to be alive and caught most deliveries that weren't cut out at source.

A welcome result, Saints left St George's Park with all three Premier League 2 points, and their first away victory since early November.

Line ups not available

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