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Scoreline Harsh, Says Saints' U21 Coach

PUBLISHED

16:17 13th November 2012

Under-21 Coach Martin Hunter felt last night's scoreline was harsh on his players as Saints were beaten 4-0 by Tottenham in the Barclays U21 Premier League.

A youthful Development Squad travelled to White Hart Lane hoping to leapfrog their opponents and climb into the top two, but were caught cold by a rampaging Spurs side.

Hunter's team trailed by three goals at the break, though they could well have got themselves back into the team but for some excellent goalkeeping by home stopper Lawrence Vigouroux.

"4-0 looks like we've had a bit of a drubbing, but I'm not sure that's the case," Martin told Saints Player at full time. 

"At 2-0 we were well in the game, but the third goal in first-half injury time was made it very, very difficult. We've got to learn from that.

"They (Spurs) are obviously a very, very talented side going forward but they do leave themselves open at the back. 

"We tried to exploit that, and with a bit more clinical finishing the scoreline could have – and should have – been different."

With Saints' previous games in the National Group Stage having taken place at training grounds or non-league grounds, for the majority of Hunter's squad last night's game represented their first taste of playing in a first-team stadium.

And the coach felt most of his men responded well to the challenge of featuring on such a high-profile stage: "Some of the players handled it very well," he affirmed. 

"This is a different occasion because it's obviously a Premier League stadium, so there was a bit of stage fright to start with. 

"But, as the game went on, we got more and more into it and I'd be very interested to see how many chances we created in both halves because their goalkeeper has made some excellent saves."

Calum Chambers and Jack Stephens – two mainstays of the U21 team so far this season – were missing from last night's fixture having linked up with the England Under-19 squad along with James Ward-Prowse.

Hunter could have selected up to four overage players for the match, but selected just one in defender Danny Butterfield.

Instead the squad included a handful of those who have helped Saints' Under-18s to the top of their division, with the coach praising how the likes of Matt Targett, Bevis Mugabi and Ryan Seager performed.

"That is a policy of the Club – if we think they're good enough, we'll push them on," Martin insisted. 

"Doddsy (U18s Coach Jason Dodd) is always very supportive in that, so if they're doing well then we'd like them to come up to this level and see what they can do.

"The players were were missing are well-experienced, but we can't carp on about that. 

"That's the situation and it gives other players opportunities to show what they can do, and some of them acquitted themselves extremely well."

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