United got off to a fast start but after only 6 minutes both teams lost a player to injury.
A good cross from Adnan Januzaj was half-cleared by the Southampton defence, and when Marnick Vermijl went in to win the header, there was a nasty clash of heads between the Belgian and Southampton defender Chambers. Vermijl looked groggy and eventually walked off the pitch whilst Chambers got a nasty cut over the eye requiring stitches. Reece James and Bevis Mugabe came on in place for the injured defenders. News later came that both players were ok and only needed a few stitches.
Lingard and Powell with decent chances for United
The first real chance of the game came on 15 minutes when Jesse Lingard guided the ball onto the post from a low Reece James cross. Whilst the effort was well taken, the Southampton goalkeeper Cropper would have probably saved it if it had gone inside the posts. This was the start of a good period for United and Larnell Cole got another big chance just minutes later. He got the ball in a decent position but decided that his angle wasn’t good enough and tried to cross the ball, rather than having a go at goal.
Nick Powell was the next player to go close. He suddenly found himself alone with the goalkeeper after picking up a loose backpass from Mugabe. Unfortunately his touch was a bit too heavy when he took the ball past the keeper, and he had to try to set up Lingard for a tap in but Southampton cleared the danger.
Southampton had a really poor start to the season but 4 wins from the last 6 has certainly improved their position, despite this the team from the south coast showed absolutely nothing in the first half.
Tunnicliffe with the best chance before the break
After a number of chances United should have taken the lead on 30 minutes. A corner from Januzaj was headed down by Tom Thorpe and Ryan Tunnicliffe hit the ball on the half-volley from 6 yards out, but somehow managed to put it over the bar. Tunnicliffe showed a lot of drive and determination in the first half, yet his final ball unfortunately lacked quality.
Powell got another big chance on 38 minutes when Januzaj took the ball past his man and sent in a low cross which Powell came really close to connecting with. At this stage it was all United, but Southampton defended well with 8-9 men behind the ball and United created few big chances despite dominating the game.
Lingard scores after just 19 seconds
It only took 19 seconds for United to break the deadlock after play resumed. Lingard advanced very easily into the Southampton box and his shot went through the legs of Mugabe and into the bottom corner from 13-14 yards out. Cropper got a hand to the ball and perhaps should have saved the shot. Cropper then almost handed United a second goal 1 minute later.
Dilly dallying on the ball after a backpass he struck it straight at Januzaj, but the ball flew straight back into the goalkeeper’s arms.
Out of nothing, Southampton almost equalized on 50 minutes. Fornasier did really well to push his way in front of Sinclair and clear the ball to a corner after a great cross from Rowe.
Southampton clear a Thorpe-header off the line
United almost grabbed a second in the 56th minute when a corner was flicked on at the near post and Thorpe’s header from 7-8 yards out looked destined for the net. But up popped Moore on the near post and he managed to clear the effort off the line.
With an hour gone, Southampton made a double substitution. Isgrove and Rowe off, Ariyibe and Gallagher on. Both players departing had a very anonymous game.
Very little happened in the next 20-25 minutes of the game. Southampton gradually worked their way into the game but lacked the quality to really test Ben Amos. United looked much more dangerous when going forward, but the desire to attack wasn’t that strong at this point in the game.
The one player who did seem interested in attacking was Januzaj, and his efforts almost created another goal on 76 minutes when his hard, low cross was almost turned in by a Southampton player.
Southampton pushed forward in the final 5-10 minutes of the game, but they never got closer than a number of crosses that either Ben Amos or the central defensive partnership of Fornasier and Thorpe dealt with easily and the victory was well-deserved.
Januzaj had a good game and was the best player together with the captain Tom Thorpe. Fornasier, Lingard and Reece James also did well. Cole once again had a poor game by his standards
Ben Amos – Frederic Veseli, Tom Thorpe (C), Michele Fornasier, Marnick Vermijl (James 9)- Larnell Cole, Charni Ekangamene, Ryan Tunnicliffe – Jesse Lingard, Adnan Januzaj – Nicky Powell
Sub: Johnny Sutherland, Reece James, Tyler Blackett, Tom Lawrence, Lawrence van Velzen
Cropper – Chambers (Mugabe 9), Stephens, Turnbull, Young – Isgrove (Ariyibie 60), Gape, Reed, Rowe (Gallagher 60)- Moore – Sinclair