- Alex Cochrane opens the scoring with a slick finish to a smart counter attack.
- Danny Cashman doubles the lead, firing into the roof of the net after a clever pass from Taylor Richards.
- Saints pull one back through Kornelius Hansen, just before the break, but are reduced to ten men when Callum Slattery is sent off early in the second half.
- Taylor Richards scores a stoppage-time brace to give Albion an emphatic victory in Hampshire.
On a wet and blustery night at Southampton’s Staplewood training base, Albion’s under-23s mastered the swirling wind and driving rain, to put in an excellent away performance to pick up all three points.
It was a game Albion dominated, but Saints started the brighter, and keeper Tom McGill was called into action early on, as he had to be alert to gather Cameron Ledwidge’s low and inviting near-post cross, with Saints striker Jack Turner trying to apply the finish.
Turner saw a low shot saved by McGill, before Albion stepped on the gas and took the lead in the 15th minute with an excellent break from inside their own box.
Left-back Cochrane — captaining the side — got forward on the left, exchanged passes with Peter Gwargis, and drove towards the Saints penalty area. Cochrane then calmly picked his spot, with a low shot across goal, past home keeper Jack Bycroft and into the opposite corner of the net.
Albion didn’t look back from that point, and doubled their lead just after the half-hour mark. It was another composed finish, this time from Cashman. Richards’s clever pass found his run, and the Albion striker still had work to do: he worked his opening, and then cleverly fired the ball into the roof of the net, past a helpless Bycroft.
Right-back Archie Davies almost put Albion three up, as he cut in from the right, and fizzed in a low drive, which almost squeezed in at the near post. Bycroft got down well to his left to push away.
Cashman was a constant threat behind the Saints back line, and he was sent clear in the inside-left channel by a clever pass by Gwargis; instinctively he went for goal, but saw his effort flash wide and into the side netting.
Albion had been devastating on the break, but the one blot on their copy book came when Saints pulled a goal back to halve the deficit with their own counter-attack just before the break. Skipper Calum Slattery found Michael Obafemi in the box, with Albion’s defence exposed, and Irish international Obafemi squared for Hansen, who calmly picked his spot to fire past McGill.
Bycroft made another smart save in the opening minute of the second half, getting down low to his right to push Cashman’s low drive from the edge of the box behind for a corner, as Albion showed no let up after the break.
Saints' task got even harder nine minutes after the interval, and skipper Slattery could have no arguments with his sending off. Gwargis skipped past right-back Kayne Ramsay, and Slattery came across, but his mistimed, two-footed challenge left Gwargis in a heap, and referee Matthew Russell had no choice but to reach for his red card.
To their credit, the home side competed well despite being a man down, and Albion survived a brief scare after Turner was fouled on the edge of their box. Albion’s wall did its job, and the resultant kick was deflected behind.
Albion were a constant threat on the break, Richards and Cochrane combined to almost create an opening for the latter — but Saints defender Ramsay cleared at the expense of a corner. From the resultant kick, Gwargis drilled his kick across the box and picked out Richards on the edge of the opposite corner of the area, and the former Manchester City man’s left-footed curler whistled just over the frame of the goal.
A poor pass out by Saints keeper Bycroft was pounced upon by Albion and Cashman found himself with a great opportunity in front of goal, but Jack Bycroft redeemed himself with an excellent save, before the Saints defence blocked Gwargis’s follow-up.
A superb cross in from the left by Gwargis found the run of Antef Tsoungui at the far post, but the 16-year-old central defender's effort went just over the bar, as Albion pressed to restore their two-goal advantage.
That was followed by an excellent passing movement involving Gwargis, Richards and Cochrane, which presented Teddy Jenks with a shooting chance at close range, but Bycroft made yet another excellent save to push the ball to safety. Moments later the Richards-Cashman combination almost paid dividends again, as the former’s defence-splitting pass found the striker in the box, but he fired over the bar.
Just when it looked like Albion would have to be content with the one-goal advantage, Richards put a deserved gloss on a very good performance from Albion; as he helped himself to two goals in quick succession, both coming in stoppage time.
For his first, he picked the ball up just inside the Saints half, ran at their defence and then arrowed a fine left-footed shot into the top corner, from the edge of the box.
His second saw him collect a pass from Gwargis, and his speculative left-footer took a big deflection on its way past Bycroft, to cap a fine night’s work for Albion’s under-23s.
ALBION: McGill; A. Davies, Tsoungui, Roberts, Cochrane; Richards, Jenks, Baluta (Leonard 60); Gwargis, Wilson (Leahy 68), Cashman (Radulovic 90).
SUBS NOT USED: Keto (GK), Yapi.