Southampton XI 2-0 Fulham XI

Thursday 5 October 2017 14:01

A Fulham XI lost 2-0 to a Southampton XI in a close match on Thursday in a 12 o’clock kick off.

Rui Fonte hit the post in the first half, before two second half goals from Charlie Austin and James Ward-Prowse for the hosts sealed the win.

It was a hot sunny day at the Staplewood training ground in an 80-minute match. The first five minutes were evenly contested, neither team managed to get a shot away as Southampton tried to play though the middle, and the Whites concentrated their attacks down the left.

Ibrahima Cissé did well early on to cut out a dangerous Southampton through ball, and Yohan Mollo was linking up well with Rafa Soares.

Seven minutes into the match and Marcus Bettinelli tried to play Fonte in with a long ball forward, but Stuart Taylor in goal for the Saints sprinted out quickly to extinguish the half chance.

In the 13th minute Fonte went very close to playing Luca de la Torre in on goal, but a last ditch tackle prevented him from getting his shot away, it was a positive start from the Whites.

A quarter of an hour into the match and Michael Madl cleared a corner to Mollo.  He tried to run the ball out from his own half but lost possession.

Southampton crossed a quick ball in to an unmarked Austin, he took a touch and shot from the six-yard line and Cissé moved his feet within a split-second to make a vital goal-line clearance.

Five minutes later Fulham were putting pressure on the Saints’ goal, winning several corners and playing higher up the pitch. Cissé drove forward from midfield in one attack and passed to Fonte.

The Portuguese worked the ball to Mollo out by the wing, who stepped so quickly the left back fell to the floor as he whipped a dangerous ball into a box, only for it to be cleared.

In the 24th minute the Whites almost went ahead. Fonte picked up a stray ball outside the box, turned and shot at goal. His effort nicked a defender on the way towards the left post, and the keeper got a fingertip to it, diverting the ball onto the post and out to safety.

In the 31st minute there were shouts from Fulham that Southampton had passed back to the keeper, and with a legitimate claim, but the referee saw it differently.

Five minutes later Nathan Redmond found his way through the Fulham defence on the left, however lashed a shot over Bettinelli’s crossbar and the first half ended scoreless.

The Whites started the second half with vigour, and attacked down the left through Soares, Mollo and Jordan Graham again. Soares and Graham had several crosses cut out by Taylor.

Southampton set up a quick counter, which led to Austin down the right, firing a warning shot over the bar.

Three minutes into the half and Tyrese Francois, the fresh Academy substitute, stole the ball off Oriol Romeu 35 yards from goal. He sprinted towards the area but was dispossessed at the vital moment as he was about to shoot.

In the 45th minute Soares was darting down the left once more and whipped a ball ten yards from goal, Mollo jumped and connected with the cross, but at an awkward height he couldn’t steer a powerful shot away.

Southampton scored with their counter attack, straight down the left Redmond cut a ball across goal to Austin, and the number 10 slammed his shot into the top right of the net with his left to break the deadlock.

The Whites fought hard to get back into the game and were finding more joy down the left than anywhere else. Soares shot across goal and was only denied by some good keeping, and Graham sent several good balls into the box, very close to finding an on-running Stephen Humphrys on one occasion.

The match lulled for a short period and the Whites almost capitalised with the next opportune moment in the 65th minute.

Graham, working hard down the left squeezed a ball to Soares who lashed a shot across goal, missing the inside of the post by half a foot.

Fulham continued attacking, Francois won a free kick close to the touch line deep in Southampton’s half. Graham whipped the ball in, it was cleared to Mollo at the edge of the area and the Frenchman slashed a volley wide of the post.

With 10 minutes left in the match, Cissé won the ball inside the Saints’ half with a crunching tackle. Francois collected and sent a clever chip over the home defence for Humphrys to run on to, unfortunately he couldn’t get on the end of it as the keeper raced out.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg shot at goal in the 71st minute, and Bettinelli made a good save but could only parry the effort back into play. Ward-Prowse was waiting in the area, collected the ball and passed it into the back of the net to double Southampton’s lead and seal the match.

The Saints almost widened the gap even further in the 74th minute, as Sam McQueen raced onto the end of a through ball and rifled a shot onto the crossbar.

The referee blew his whistle to bring an end to a competitive, end to end match.

Southampton XI line-up:

Taylor, Targett, Stephens, Gardos, McQueen, Romeu (Smallbone), Hojbjerg, Redmond (Bakaray), Ward-Prowse (Vokins), Boufal (Mdlalose), Austin.

Fulham XI line-up:

Bettinelli, Odoi, Madl, Djalo, Soares, de la Torre (40’ Francois), Cissé, O’Riley, Graham, Fonte (50’ Humphrys), Mollo.

Unused subs: Button, McDonald, Jenz.