Heavy traffic as we headed towards the south coast meant the team arrived at the Saints’ Staplewood training ground later than planned on Saturday morning.
That disrupted the warm-up ahead of the Barclays Under-18 Premier League contest, with the hosts taking full advantage as Stuart Wilkin gave them the lead inside four minutes.
But we soon regrouped
and after Samuel Shashoua’s equaliser, Ryan Loft bagged a brace later in the first half, with Under-18s Coach Kieran delighted with the reaction from our players.
“We had a difficult start to the day with a lot of traffic problems getting to Southampton, meaning we arrived late and the warm-up was disrupted,” he explained.
“These things are all important lessons for the players, though, because even at senior level they’ll sometimes have that sort of experience where they arrive a little bit late to the ground and they’ve still got to mentally and physically prepare in a shortened space of time.
“We spoke about that on Saturday but unfortunately we started slowly, Southampton started very well and deservedly got their goal in the first five minutes, but the pleasing thing was that we produced a really good response and as soon as we settled down and started to play our game, it was a really good performance for the rest of the game.”
Shashoua’s goal was his second inside four days after also hitting the target in last week’s Under-20s friendly at Barnet, while Loft kept himself among the goals after scoring from the spot against the Bees.
Kieran praised the pair for their endeavours going forward and highlighted how our midfielders also made a key contribution to the goals on the day.
“A striker always wants to be scoring goals and they’ll judge themselves by that,” he continued. “Ryan set a foundation for his performance through his hard work and his aggression and he deserved his goals from that.
“Samuel was excellent, especially in the first half, and was supported really well by the likes of Armani Daly, Zenon Stylianides, Marcus Edwards and Ryan.
“Some of our final third play was really imaginative, stylish and penetrating. It was everything that we’d want it to be in the first half.”