U21s Report: Southampton 1-2 Leeds United

U21s Report: Southampton 1-2 Leeds United

Whites return to the top of the table.

Premier League 

Southampton 1 (Bree 37’)

Leeds United 2 (Joseph 4’, Mullen 16’)

Saints: McCarthy (GK), Bree, Meghoma, Pambou, Armitage, Andrews (Dibling 72’), Amo-Ameyaw, Aribo, Ballard (C), Doyle, Edozie. Subs not used: Stewart, Otseh-Taiwo, Merry, Stepien-Iwumene. 

Leeds: Van den Heuvel (GK), Debayo, Ferguson, Mullen, Moore, Spencer, Allen, Gyabi (Coleman 64’), Joseph (C) (Crew 64’), Perkins (Douglas 85’), Snowdon (Thomas 53’). Subs not used: Christy (GK). 

Booked: Meghoma, Pambou (Saints) Spencer, Gyabi, Allen, Coleman (Leeds)

Venue: Staplewood Development Centre

Leeds United Under-21s returned to the top of the table on Friday night, with a brilliant performance and result away from home.

The Whites traveled south and claimed three points against top-of-the-league Southampton, courtesy of first half goals from Mateo Joseph and Jeremiah Mullen.  

A pulsating opening 45 minutes on the South Coast saw plenty of chances as soon as the match got underway at the Staplewood Development Centre. 

The first was for the hosts, as Dani van den Heuvel was called into early action to deny the lively Sam Edozie who had a chance. Straight down the other end, Darko Gyabi set Sonny Perkins through on goal, but the forward struck his effort wide.  

Leeds wouldn’t have to wait long to take the lead though, as top-scorer and captain Joseph netted his 13th of the campaign. The striker was found in the box and calmly slotted home left-footed beyond the experienced Alex McCarthy in the Saints net. 

Paco Gallardo’s side should have doubled the lead on 10 minutes. It was Perkins again who was in on goal after Joe Snowdon and Joseph’s build-up, only to see the ‘keeper deny his effort. Charlie Allen suffered the same outcome moments later from the Southampton stopper.

Just over a quarter-of-an-hour into the match and the lead was doubled in this table-topping match. James Debayo kept a corner alive and Mullen was alert, beating the offside trap to flick home a close-range header for United’s second of the night. 

Some strong defensive work was needed as the hosts looked to fight back in this one. Kris Moore put his body on the line to deny Edozie again, whilst van den Heuvel was ever-alert to clear dangerous balls into the box.

When the Leeds stopper was beaten, it was from an excellent effort from James Bree. The 25-year-old Premier League full-back showed his quality, volleying in a powerful effort on the edge of the box to reduce the deficit. 

No more major chances came before the break, despite both teams continuing to attack one another. The desire to win the match was clear from each bench, as Leeds went into the break with a one-goal advantage - ending a thrilling opening half. 

HALF TIME: Southampton 1-2 Leeds United 

The Whites came out for the second half knowing they had 45 minutes to navigate their way through with a one-goal advantage, to return to the top of the table, whilst the home side were aiming to retain their place there. 

The opening 15 minutes of the second half were an awful lot quieter than the opening 15 minutes of the first, with no real chances at either end as both teams settled back into the game. 

However, when there was a chance, the impressive McCarthy carried on his first-half form by making a point-blank save to deny Joseph a second of the match, with the striker shooting from just a couple of yards out. 

Leeds had made three changes with 25 minutes remaining. Under-18s players Luca Thomas, Cian Coleman and Charlie Crew all came into the game to continue the high-energy performance that had been seen in the build up. 

The next to go close in the game was one of the changes, as Thomas looked to extend the lead. Getting in on goal, the striker connected with Perkins’ cross, only to see his effort cleared off the line. 

Just like his opposite number McCarthy, van den Heuvel had been in fine form also. This time the Leeds ‘keeper was alert to deny Edozie, once again, as the match entered its final stages. 

As the clocked ticked down in this well-fought contest, the impressive backline of Debayo, Mullen, Moore and Connor Ferguson had stood firm throughout and dealt with everything this experienced Saints side had thrown at them. 

That meant that when the final whistle blew after eight-minutes of stoppage time, Leeds had confirmed an important and thoroughly deserved three points away from home, sending them back to the top of the league. 

FULL TIME: Southampton 1-2 Leeds United