Stoke City Under-21s 0
Southampton Under-21s 1 (Flannigan 53)
Stoke City’s development squad fell to an undeserved defeat at the Weaver Stadium on Friday afternoon.
The Potters dominated for long periods but couldn’t unlock the Southampton defence and were made to pay by the visitors who scored with their only shot on target through Jake Flannigan.
The game saw Matthew Etherington play an hour as he fights his way back to full fitness, but the winger was unable to stop the team from falling to their third consecutive defeat in league and cup.
City dominated proceedings early on and went narrowly close when lively duo Etherington and Jamie Ness combined to release the former down the left but he screwed wide of Will Britt’s far post.
Glyn Hodges’ side went even closer on 16 minutes when Maurice Edu found space inside the opposition half and played in Derice Richards who moved the ball onto his left foot before forcing the ‘keeper into a smart save from 18 yards.
Etherington and Ryan O’Reilly were linking up well down the left for City and when the Irish full back weaved his way into the box his near post effort was well saved by Britt.
The hosts were in complete control and were denied from opening the scoring midway through the half when good work once again between O’Reilly and Etherington this time released the latter who pulled the ball back to Richards and the Nantwich born striker saw his effort cleared off the line by Matt Targett.
Southampton went close to taking an undeserved minutes later but Omar Rowe’s 25-yard free-kick flew just wide of Dale Eve’s right-hand post.
Etherington was continuing to be a bright spark for the Potters and his cross to the edge-of-the- area almost brought about the opener just before the break. Charlie Ward controlled the ball expertly but the youngster’s shot dipped the wrong side of the crossbar.
It wasn’t long after the interval that the Potters had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock. Adam Thomas raced to towards goal before his shot was parried into the path of Richards but the
forward’s shot was expertly cleared off the line by the covering Matt Young.
City dominance was to be undone on 53 minutes, though. Rowe was given time and space inside the box to pull the ball back to an unmarked Flannigan who clinically fired home from eight yards into the bottom corner.
Stoke endeavoured to find a route back into the game but found it difficult to break down a resolute Saints defence although they went narrowly close to claiming an equaliser in the 85th minute through Adam Thomas but the winger failed to get a touch to O’Reilly’s cross before Ness fired just wide from 20 yards.
Stoke City: Eve, Wheeler, O’Reilly, Edu, Grant (c), Heneghan (Sanders 62), Thomas, Ward, Richards, Ness, Etherington (Rossi 62). Subs not used: Gyollai, Westley, Dawson.
Southampton: Britt, Young, Targett, Gape, Stephens, Turnbull, Flannigan, Robinson, Lee, Sinclair, Rowe. Subs not used: Curtis, Isted, Leggett, Sims, Moore.