Liverpool Under 21s 1-3 Southampton Under 21s

Mason OG 25’                      Seager 24’, 52’ Hesketh 90’

By Scott Taylor

A brace from Ryan Seager and a late strike from Jake Hesketh gave Southampton back-to-back wins in the Under 21 Premier League and in doing so inflicted back-to-back defeats for Liverpool. Seager scored his 5th and 6th goals of the season either side of a Niall Mason own goal, but Hesketh ensured the three points with an injury time goal.

Michael Beale made four changes from the side that lost 4-3 in the Under 21s last game in late September. Firstly, Jordan Williams comes in for Jordan Lussey. The injured Sheyi Ojo is replaced by Ryan McLaughlin and there is a like-for-like change which sees Ryan Kent make way for Harry Wilson. The fourth and final change sees Samed Yesil drop out for Jerome Sinclair. There was another start for promising youngster Adam Phillips, who scored a brace in the Manchester City defeat.

Martin Hunter made five changes from Southampton’s 2-0 win against Norwich City. There was a change in goal as Pablo Gazzaniga replaced Cody Cropper. Another there were two changes in the defences as Josh Debayo came in for Matt Targett and Niall Mason replaced Harrison Reed. Two further changes in midfield saw Lloyd Isgrove replace Josh Sims and Dominic Gape came in for the injured Sam McQueen.

The visitors started off the better of the two sides, and it only took the Saints two minutes to test Danny Ward in the Liverpool goal, albeit with a soft 30 yard strike from Jake Hesketh. Hunter’s side went much closer two minutes later as Jake Flannigan’s fierce drive dipped just over Ward’s crossbar. Harry Wilson tired to ease the pressure by creating a chance of his own, but his header was well saved by Pablo Gazzaniga.

This was the only real chance that Liverpool had in the early stages, as Southampton bounced back. Firstly, Debayo’s cross found the in-form Ryan Seager, who couldn’t keep his shot on target. Then, in the 21st minute the Debayo-Seager partnership worked again, and this time Seager got his shot on target, only to be denied by a great reaction save from Ward.

It was third time lucky for Seager as he got away from his marker Lloyd Jones and calmly hit it past Ward to give the Saints and well deserved lead. There is a saying in football and that is ‘You are most vulnerable when you score’, and this applied to Southampton as Mason intends to clear Jerome Sinclair’s cross out of play but hits it into the roof of his own net, as they half ended all square but the visitors were evidently on top.

Liverpool missed Jordan Rossiter’s composure and stability in the midfield, and so he was introduced in the 46th minute as he came on for Ryan McLaughlin. Rossiter could do nothing about what happened in the 52nd minute however as Omar Rowe got behind the Liverpool defence and just what he did against Liverpool last season he assisted another goal for Southampton and another goal for Seager with a tap-in.

Liverpool were still a constant threat in the game despite being under pressure for most of the game, but they did have their glimpses. In the 56th minute, Sinclair capitalised on a mistake from Debayo but his shot was easily saved by Gazzaniga. Michael Beale understood that he needed goals and so made an attacking substitution as playmaker Daniel Trickett-Smith replaced full back Connor Randall. No further goals came for 15 minutes and so Beale made his last through of the dice as he brought on Alex O’Hanlon for Phillips with 12 minutes left in the match.

Even with such creativity in the side, Liverpool couldn’t break through the resilient Southampton defence and that proved costly as in the closing stages. Jake Hesketh’s shot went underneath Danny Ward who arguably should’ve done better as Southampton go back to the South Coast with all three points in a dominant display.

LFC XI: Ward, Randall, Maguire, Stewart, Jones, Williams, McLaughlin, Phillips, Sinclair, Brannagan, Wilson.

Saints XI: Gazzaniga, Mason, McCarthy, Wood, Debayo, Flannigan, Gape, Hesketh, Rowe, Isgrove, Seager.