Southampton U21s 0-0 Spurs
Report from Staplewood Training Ground
29 April 2013|Tottenham Hotspur
Our title-winning Under-21s completed the Elite Group phase of the Barclays U21 Premier League with a 0-0 draw at Southampton on Monday.
Clear-cut chances were at a premium in a closely-fought encounter at Southampton's Staplewood Training Ground. Steven Caulker and Tom Carroll completed 90 minutes while Jake Nicholson continued his comeback from a long-term injury with a 45-minute shift.
Both teams had one stand-out opportunity to take maximum points. Shaq Coulthirst slid to meet Ryan Fredericks' cross in the 67th minute, only to see Saints' goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga get down to his right to claw the ball off his line.
At the other end, Jake Sinclair's cross was deflected into the path of Ryan Seager, who dragged wide from close range 10 minutes from time.
Both goalkeepers impressed when called upon. Gazzaniga produced three saves in as many minutes to deny Carroll and Shaq Coulthirst at the start of the second half, while Lawrence Vigouroux's was at his best to turn away Seager's deflected effort in the 73rd minute.
The goalless draw means the lads have completed phase one and two of the all-new competition with just five defeats in 26 matches, scoring an amazing 77 goals along the way.
They won National Group Two in the first phase of the competition - despite losing the first two games back in August - and completed the 'double' with the Elite Group title when rivals United and Liverpool both lost on Friday.
The play-offs follow next month, when we will take on the winners of the play-off between the winners of Group One and Group Two in the semi-final
Back to Southampton, and efforts came in from distance in a tight first half.
For Spurs, Nabil Bentaleb dipped a volley just over, Kenny McEvoy fired wide and Fredericks lashed inches over while at the other end, Lloyd Isgrove curled just over from the edge of the box and Vigouroux did well to touch over another effort from the same player.
Nicholson replaced Giancarlo Gallifuoco at half-time and the second half started with a flourish.
Gazzaniga tipped over from Carroll on 49 minutes, did even better to turn over Coulthirst's flying header a minute later and then had to be alert to grab a teasing cross from Carroll that evaded everyone and was heading for the far post.
Sinclair flicked over at the near post for the Saints before Gazzaniga clawed away Caulker's looping header. Vigouroux took Sinclair's stinger down to his right and then our best chance as Fredericks got down the right and crossed for Coulhirst, who diverted the ball towards the far post but found Gazzaniga equal to the task.
Southampton had the final three chances. Vigouroux did well to turn away Seager's deflected 20-yarder on 73 minutes, the same player missed the target from close range on 80 minutes and Vigouroux produced another flying save to keep out Matt Targett's free-kick four minutes from time.
Ugo Ehiogu said
“The first half was disappointing because we didn’t play as many forward passes as we would have liked,” he said.
“I think we had reasonably good control in the middle third but didn’t quite have the balance right with our attacking play in the final third. We’ve worked on being better than that, in terms of being more penetrative, but in the second half the intent was much better.
“In the end it feels like a loss today. Obviously we didn’t do quite enough to win it, but we certainly wouldn’t have deserved to lose it.”
Ugo was impressed with the contribution of the young stopper, confirming the shutout was one of the main positive points coming out of the game.
“It was pleasing to see us keep another clean sheet,” he added. “Luke has a nice habit of making key saves at vital times for us and it was nice to see him coming for a few crosses under pressure as well.
“If you look at the whole picture, we’ve come through another game without conceding and overall I think we created more clear-cut chances.”
Southampton (4-3-3): Gazzaniga; Chambers, Stephens, Turnbull, Targett; Moore (Seager, 68), Curtis, Reed; Isgrove, Hoskins, Sinclair. Unused subs: Young, Johns, Rowe, Gape.
Spurs (4-3-3): Vigouroux, Barthram, Caulker, Hall, Fryers; Carroll, Bentaleb, Gallifuoco (Nicholson, 46); Fredericks (Dombaxe, 75), Coulthirst, McEvoy (Michael-Percil, 62). Unused subs: Miles.