An almost-full Abbey Stadium was the setting for the first competitive match between these two sides in the League Cup last night, could the famous Abbey atmosphere help the U’s to another cup shock under Mark Bonner?
Just as in the Millwall game in the previous round Bonner made a number of changes, making full use of his squad which meant starts for Mannion, Ibsen Rossi, Simper, Janneh, Haunstrup and Lankester. Southampton lined up fairly strongly, with former U Alex McCarthy in goal, plus Premier League regulars Jan Bednarek, Oriol Romeu, Adam Armstrong and Che Adams all making the starting eleven.
Southampton started the game strong, getting forward and creating chances. United weren’t exactly outplayed, but it’s clear we were second best, the Premier League side showing their class and sharpness to control much of the game, putting the U’s under immediate pressure whenever we had the ball. That’s not to say we were playing badly, a few good spells either side of half time resulted in chances for an impressive Janneh.
At 1-0 a goal for United could have made for a more interesting game (although in truth there was only going to be one winner), but just before the hour mark a couple of suspiciously bad refereeing decisions allowed Southampton to double their lead through Che Adams, who’d handled the ball in the build up which was missed by the referee, as well as a marginal offside call in the same move.
Once that second goal went in it was one-way traffic really, United made a number of attacking changes, showing they still wanted to fight in front of a vocal Abbey crowd, but Southampton continued to control the match, and late in the match they added a third through youngster Dominic Ballard.
On the radio Bonner said the game would have been pointless if we didn’t learn anything from it – and whilst the result wasn’t exactly one to remember Bonner enjoyed the test against higher opposition. Overall we’re going to struggle to compete with even the smaller Premier League sides, their facilities and finances far far better than anything we can imagine (Che Adams alone cost £15 million). It’s also worth remembering that the Carabao Cup provides fuck all in terms of prize money for clubs until the later stages, so it’s not really that important to the club in the grand scheme of things. We came through the match unscathed, which is the important thing, and hopefully learned some things from impressive opposition. Burton visit on Saturday which is a real chance to get some more points on the board, and at the end of the day, that’s the real quiz.
Man of the Match: The defence all did well, with Rossi growing into the match and Lloyd Jones playing well beyond his years. Ironside fought for every ball and Janneh continued to excite fans with his willingness to run with the ball. Digby called the shots in the middle and everyone can come out of the game with their heads high, despite the result.
Soundtrack of The Match: Talking Heads – This Must Be The Place