Southampton v Man Utd 22/08/16
After last week’s smash and grab against an experienced Leicester team, Warren Joyce and his young reds travelled to the South coast for our first away game of the Premier League 2 season versus Southampton.
Joyce was again forced into shuffling the team due to injury concerns and the recent departures out on loan of left back Borthwick-Jackson to Wolves and striker Wilson to Derby. Sam Johnston who has been carrying an injury was replaced in goal by Henderson. Ex Man City trialist Sadiq El Fitouri came into the team at right back as Riley moved to left back in the absence of the departed Borthwick-Jackson. The versatile Scott McTominay was bought back into the starting eleven replacing Olosunde as Joyce went for a 4-1-4-1 formation as he looked to add more of a cutting edge to the team that struggled to create any chance of note in our last game.
The opening exchanges were dominated by Southampton as they forced two corners in the initial five minutes. The first clear cut chance of the game for United came when good link up play from McTominay in midfield carved open the Saints defence, the resulting opportunity was wasted though as our captain James Weir who is usually composed when in possession blasted the ball high and wide.
Although the young reds were showing great passing ability in the middle of the pitch it was again obvious that without anyone to finish the good build-up play, it was going to be another drab affair.
The Southampton strikers, in particular Olomola, were causing more and more problems for the United defence and would have taken the lead on the 27th minute were it not for an excellent reaction stop from Henderson. United were being forced to weather the storm.
Another glorious chance fell at Weir’s feet two minutes before half time when the Southampton keeper fumbled a corner from Harrop, as the ball dropped to Weir 2 yards out he could only scuff the ball wide with the goal at his mercy.
As the second half started manager Warren Joyce made some tactical changes by moving Weir back into midfield and pushing Harrop up front. The changes failed to improve the team as Southampton looked to convert their dominance into goals.
The first goal of the game inevitably fell to Southampton when Kehinde failed to track his opposing player and the resulting cross was headed out by Tuanzebe only for it to fall at the feet of Sims and his deflected shot rifled past Henderson.
United tried to respond but without any sort of threat up front were left to try and score from long range shots. This game was crying out for a Rashford or Pereira type player and with Jose bemoaning the lack of first team games to play this should have been a game to give young players minutes on the pitch.
Southampton killed the game of when they scored their second of the game in the 62nd minute. United’s defence was again culpable when a lack of marking from a Saints corner allowed Stephens to head home unchallenged.
Joyce instantly responded to the second goal by sending on last week’s hero Demi Mitchell for El Fitouri but it failed to improve the performance of a lack lustre team on a sunny August evening. The impressive Olomola should have made it more but a couple of bad misses kept the score respectable as Southampton saw out the remainder of the game.
A disappointing result coupled with a below average performance had Warren Joyce visibly deflated in his after match interview. He will surely be looking for an instant response when we face a much sterner test on Sunday versus a strong Chelsea side. (Hopefully we find a striker before then!!!)
United Line Up:
Henderson, Riley, Tuanzebe, Poole, El Fitouri, McTominay Redmond, Harrop, Willock, Weir, Kehinde
Subs: Mitchell for El Fitouri 63mins
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