By Scott Taylor
Ryan Seager and Lloyd Isgrove were on target for Southampton Under-21s as they beat ten-man Liverpool at Staplewood on Monday night. Saints included players such as James-Ward Prowse and January signing Filip Djuricic in their line-up, with Will Wood being the only player who has not been involved in the first team this season. A 67th minute strike from Seager, his 16th of the season, gave Saints the lead before Isgrove rounded off the scoring five minutes from time.
Liverpool were missing Jerome Sinclair, who signed for Wigan on a youth-loan deal until the end of the season, but did have Under-18 captain Tom Brewitt in the squad, days after signing his first professional contract with the club.
Southamtpon Under-21 captain Jason McCarthy had the first opportunity of the game after ten minutes. The central defender, deputising at right-back forced Danny Ward into a smart save after being supplied by Harrison Reed.
Ward was caled into action eleven minutes later. Seager, who won the inaugural Barclays Under-21 Premier League Player of the Month last week, capitalised on a mistake from the Reds defence but his close range effort was turned around the post by Ward.
Liverpool grew into the game and soon had their first chance. Daniel Trickett-Smith’s corner was floated into the box and was met by the unmarked Cameron Brannagan, but the Reds’ captain headed wide.
This was to be Liverpool’s only real opportunity the opening 45 minutes. Reed played through Sam Gallagher, who has just recovered from a lengthy injury, and his weak effort was well held by Ward, who himself has not played any football after being the bench for the first team in the absence of Brad Jones.
Micheal Beale’s Liverpool side came out an improved side in the second half, and were quick out of the blocks. Wilson played in Trickett-Smith, but his save was easily gathered by Southampton goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga.
This improvement was short-lived. Ward-Prowse tested Ward before the Wales international was finally beaten in the 67th minute. Djuricic, a loan-signing from Benfica, threaded a ball through to Seager, who fired a low shot past the outstreched Ward to net his 16th goal of the season.
The Reds could only ball watch as Gallagher thought he doubled their lead a minute later, but much to Liverpool’s relief, he was denied by the offside flag. Things soon got from bad to worse for Liverpool, as Wilson was sent off for a form of dissent, which forced Beale to bring on Sam Hart and Ovie Ejaria.
Isgrove then punished the ten-men of Liverpool with a neat finish to secure all three points for Southampton. It was the first win for Martin Hunter’s side since 26 January, when they beat West Ham United 2-0. In the process, Liverpool’s four-game winning run came to and end.
Liverpool XI: Ward; McLaughlin (Smith 61′), Cleary, Williams, Maguire; Stewart, Chirivella; Canos, Brannagan (c) (Ejaria 80′), Wilson; Trickett-Smith (Hart 80′). Subs Not Used: Vigouroux, Brewitt.
Southampton XI: Gazzaniga; McCarthy (c), Gardos, Wood, Targett; Ward-Prowse, Reed; Isgrove, Gallagher (McQueen 90′), Djuricic (Sinclair 75′); Seager. Subs Not Used: Britt, Mugabi, Gape.