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#U18 #MatchReport #Southampton #CharlieSayers #ThomasBloxham

Sayers scores late winner for Under-18s at Southampton

Southampton 1-2 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Sat 15 January 2022, 14:17|Tottenham Hotspur

Charlie Sayers slotted home his first Spurs goal two minutes from time to give our Under-18s a 2-1 victory over 10-man Southampton on Saturday.

The defender, who joined our Academy from Southend United at the end of last year, was on hand to drill home following a cut-back from centre-half partner Alfie Dorrington after the hosts had struggled to clear their lines from a corner, as our efforts to capitalise on the second-half dismissal of Matt Carson finally paid off.

We’d trailed to Tommy-Lee Higgs’ penalty inside 90 seconds at Staplewood, but grew into the game and equalised during a spell in the ascendancy on 25 minutes when Tom Bloxham drilled home his second goal in as many matches.

Both sides squandered further chances but after Saints defender Carson was shown a straight red card for his challenge on Bloxham with 25 minutes left, it was largely one-way traffic until we found the breakthrough.

In combining for the winner, Sayers and Dorrington proved to be influential at both ends of the pitch, having stood up well to Southampton’s attacking threats on their return to the side after both missed last week’s defeat in the north London derby. Goalkeeper Aaron Maguire – on the bench against Arsenal – also marked his return to action after a lengthy injury absence with a superb second-half save to deny Tyler Dibling.

It was Southampton who took an early lead as we once again paid for a slow start, Higgs converting from the spot within just a minute-and-a-half, after Kaya Tshaka had gone to ground in the box under Rio Kyerematen’s challenge. We then had to weather a storm as Riley Wright dragged a great chance wide before Maguire denied Sonnie Davis at the near post and Sayers produced an excellent sliding block in the box to prevent a certain goal from Dibling, all inside the opening nine minutes.

We gradually worked our way forward, though, and it was Kyerematen who took the initiative to help us get back on level terms on 25 minutes. Having initially won the ball to kick-start a move that ended with him being denied by goalkeeper Gustav Lillienberg from close range, the midfielder showed his determination by stealing possession once again in an advanced position, his pass to Jaden Williams in the box saw the striker ferry the ball on to Bloxham with a brilliant backheel and the latter planted home into the bottom corner on his left foot.

Sam Amo-Ameyaw was getting into good areas on the left but was found wanting with his finishing, while Sayers went close from a tight angle on the same side at the start of the second period, but on 65 minutes the momentum firmly turned in our favour as Carson was dismissed and we began to turn the screw. Dibling almost stole the lead back in a rare opening for Southampton but was denied by a good save away to his right by Maguire, but our pressure at the other end finally told in the 88th minute when Dorrington set up Sayers to drill in through a crowded area.

There was still time for a near miss at either end, Southampton substitute Ryan Chavez-Munoz turning away Billy Heaps’ dangerous ball across the face of goal just as Max McKnight was about to arrive onto it at the far post, while Sayers had to remain vigilant to block Jimmy Jay Morgan’s shot in our box as the Saints had a late roll of the dice. Ultimately, though, they couldn’t prevent us from claiming our first Under-18 Premier League win since November.

‘It’s a great feeling’

Under-18s Coach Stuart Lewis was delighted to see his players turn their good work of late into a positive league result, telling us after the game: “I felt it was a well-deserved victory and I’m pleased for the boys that we’ve come away with the win and some really good individual performances. Obviously to concede a penalty and a goal in the first couple of minutes wasn’t acceptable, we must start a lot sharper and with more concentration in that respect, but overall I was really pleased with the performance and it gives us some good momentum going into the FA Youth Cup game against West Brom on Friday.

“It was pleasing that Aaron Maguire made his first league appearance of the season and the two centre-halves, Alfie and Charlie, were excellent. We didn’t start well enough in the first 10 or 15 minutes but then we took control and we had some big moments, as did Southampton. We’re coming away thinking we could have been a bit more clinical when we had those opportunities, but nevertheless it’s a great feeling to get the win and it was pleasing that Charlie got the goal to cap off a really outstanding performance.”

Southampton 1-2 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Maguire, Abbott (Bryan-Waugh 57), Linton (Hackett 51), Willhoft-King, Dorrington, Sayers (c), Bloxham (McKnight 75), Heaps, Williams, Kyerematen, Amo-Ameyaw. Substitutes (not used): Krasniqi, J Davies.