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Southampton 2-2 Youths
Southampton 2-2 Youths
Monday, 18th Apr 2005 22:39

Town's U18s will feel they have every chance of lifting the FA Youth Cup at Portman Road on Friday after a 2-2 draw with Southampton in the first leg at the St Mary's Stadium. The Saints went ahead via a David McGoldrick penalty seconds before the break but two goals from Cathal Lordan put the Blues ahead prior to Leon Best's equaliser.

The Blues lined-up in a 4-5-1 formation, James Krause coming into the side at left-back, Michael Synnott switching to the right and Sammy Moore moving to a wide midfield position with Cathal Lordan taking up a more central role than in previous Youth Cup matches.

Striker Billy Clarke dropped out having received knee ligament damage late in the semi-final second leg with Spurs. Clarke also misses the second leg of the final and an Ireland UEFA U19 Championships qualifying squad.

Town had the first chance of the game when they won a corner on the left. Cathal Lordan sent the ball in but Aidan Collins's header was well away from goal. Leon Best stabbed a Theo Walcott cross wide in the fifth minute, before Shane Supple did well to claim at the feet of Walcott.

The Blues were enjoying most of the possession but chances were hard to come by until the 23rd minute when Darryl Knights and Cathal Lordan exchanged a one-two which put Knights away one-on-one with keeper Andrew McNeil. As he held off two defenders, the England U18 international pushed the ball just too far and McNeil grabbed.

On 25 the Saints had the ball in the net but Walcott had clearly been offside before shooting past Supple.

Three minutes later, Town skipper Liam Craig went a foot wide from 25 yards as the Blues continued to have the better of the game. The Scot went a lot further away from goal with a 30-yarder soon after.

Southampton had a great chance to go ahead in the 36th minute when a cross from the left deflected into Walcott's path in a good position eight yards out. The Saints' winger shot and Supple instinctively saved with his right hand.

The half looked like it was going to end goalless when, with seconds of injury time remaining, Walcott ran through the Town defence and was tripped in the area by Aidan Collins. Referee André Marriner, who has taken control of two Town first team games this season, had no hesitation in awarding a penalty.

Former Notts County trainee David McGoldrick sent the ball to Supple's right and into the net.

Town had hardly deserved to be down at the break having enjoyed much the better of the half with Southampton only really in control for a short period around the 20-minute mark.

The Blues hit back within three minutes of the second half. Lone striker Darryl Knights fed Cathal Lordan 30 yards out and, with the Southampton defence standing off him, the Irish midfielder took a couple of touches before lashing a shot into the top corner of the net.

Town started the second period very strongly and came close to a second goal when Aidan Collins headed on a Liam Craig freekick and both Chris Casement and Liam Trotter narrowly failed to get a final touch.

Lloyd James shot over from 30 yards for the home side before the Blues went in front. Knights was sent away down the left and picked out Lordan arriving late on the right. The Irish U18 international took one touch before hitting a low shot back across keeper McNeil and into the net.

Southampton started to put a bit of pressure on after the Blues had gone in front and Supple did well to claim ahead of Leon Best.

Two minutes after the hour, the Saints were back on terms. Walcott was threaded through one-on-one with the keeper, Supple blocked but failed to hold onto the ball on the edge of the area. Michael Synnott half-cleared to Leon Best and the Ireland U19 international found himself space to shoot into the keeper-less goal.

As the teams lined-up for the restart, right-winger Danny Haynes replaced Michael Synnott who had suffered a jarred knee. The change meant a reshuffle for the Blues with Sammy Moore moving to the right-back position he had filled in the previous two rounds in Synnott's absence, also due to a knee problem.

The pace of Best, McGoldrick and Walcott was proving difficult for the Town defence to handle and on 64 McGoldrick made a positive run but his shot was little trouble for Supple.

Both sides visibly tired as the last 10 minutes approached and chances became rarer. Owen Garvan sent Darryl Knights away on the left in the 76th minute but his strike from a tight angle failed to test the keeper.

Garvan picked up a yellow card in the 82nd minute when he argued with referee André Marriner's incorrect decision to award a freekick against him just outside the area. Lloyd James sent the freekick well over the bar.

Late on, Blair Hammond replaced Darryl Knights up front and Charlie Sheringham took over from Liam Trotter. McGoldrick shot over from 30 yards from the game's final chance.

An excellent away performance from the Blues who out-passed the Saints for much of the game and could well have gone into the second leg with a lead. Cathal Lordan scored two fine goals, while Darryl Knights did well in the difficult lone striker's role.

In midfield Garvan and Trotter kept the Blues ticking and at the back Collins and Casement were solid, both full-backs got forward well and Supple was a reliable and confident presence in goal.

Southampton's pace caused Town problems, particularly in the second half, and the Blues will have to keep Walcott, Best and McGoldrick in check in the second leg. However, if Town play as well as this in Friday's game then a 2005 Youth Cup victory should be added to those of 1973 and 1975.

Town: Supple, Moore, Synnott (Haynes 62), Krause, Casement, Collins, Lordan, Trotter (Sheringham 90), Knights (Hammond 85), Craig.

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