Monday 22 April 2013
Southampton's hopes of a place in the play-off of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League were dealt a major blow when they let slip a three-goal lead at West Bromwich Albion in the Elite Group.
After taking a 1-0 lead into half-time courtesy of Donervorn Daniels' own goal, Southampton, who had Veggard Forren and James Ward-Prowse in their defence, extended their advantage after the break through Jake Sinclair and substitute Ryan Seager.
But, with 15 minutes remaining, Alex Jones got a goal back for West Brom before Shaun Donnellan reduced the deficit to one. Then, in the final minute, Joel Ambalu stole in to equalise for the home side.
"I'm furious" said Southampton coach Martin Hunter. "We dominate the game for 85% of the time - we're three-nil to the good and then concede three goals in the last 15 minutes. That's not good enough."
The draw means Southampton are four points behind third-placed Liverpool in the Elite Group with two matches to go, while the Merseysiders also have a match in hand. The top three in the group go through to the play-offs.
Goals in each half from Fulham defenders Stephen Arthurworrey and Jack Grimmer meant that Aston Villa's hopes of catching Everton at the top of Group 1 are all but over.
Both goals at Motspur Park came from the delivery of Sean Kavanagh for a Fulham side featuring Kerim Frei and Neil Etheridge. The positive news for Villa was the return of Gary Gardner, the midfielder, who played his first match in eight months after injury.
With one match remaining Villa are three points behind Everton, who lead the group and have played two matches fewer. Fulham moved level on points with Villa and the two must hope that Everton lose their remaining three matches for one of them to reach the play-offs.
On Friday, Newcastle United maintained their hopes of winning Group 2 with a 4-0 win over Crystal Palace at St James' Park, thanks in part to a hat-trick from Gabriel Obertan. The win puts Newcastle a point behind leaders Reading, with a match in hand.
In the Elite Group, West Ham United emerged 3-2 winners in a topsy-turvy contest with Wolverhampton Wanderers, with Sean Maguire scoring his first goal for the U21s.
Tottenham Hotspur can move a step closer to finishing top of the Elite Group with victory in the north London derby. Spurs, who are five points ahead of second-placed Manchester United, have been in impressive form this term having already booked their place in the last four with eight wins from their 12 matches in the second phase.
Arsenal, who beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-2 last time out with a brace from in-form striker Chuba Akpom, can take heart from the fact that Spurs are without a victory since 1 April, but they need a home win to stand any chance of reaching the play-offs. The match at Barnet's Underhill Stadium is free entry for all.
Everton just require a draw against struggling Sunderland to establish an impregnable lead at the Group 1 summit and a place in the play-offs. Alan Stubbs's side are three points clear of Aston Villa and Fulham with two matches in hand and will be confident of registering a seventh victory at home against a side who have yet to record a victory in the second phase. Entry is free for Everton season ticket holders and FOREVERTON members, adults can attend for £5 with concessions at £3.
Middlesbrough can move to within two points of second place in Group 1 with an away win at Blackburn Rovers, who will themselves leapfrog Boro with a home win. There is little to choose between the two sides, who are divided by only a point, but both sides can still finish above Everton if they win all of their remaining matches and the Toffees falter in the run-in. Season-ticket holders can see the match at Ewood Park for free on production of their season ticket card. General admission prices are £4 adults and £2 concessions.
Reading are hoping to bounce back from a surprise defeat against Crystal Palace last time out as they seek to preserve their position at the top of Group 2. The Royals are leading the way but with Newcastle United just a point behind with a game in hand the Berkshire outfit need to rediscover winning ways in this 1pm kick-off, against a fourth-placed Bolton Wanderers side who beat them 1-0 on 11 April.
Both of these sides are out of the running for a play-off place but Stoke City can move to within a point of Manchester City with a home win. The Potters will be buoyed by their second win of the second phase against Palace in their last sortie, while Attilio Lombardo's charges are also seeking a third win of the New Year. City have recently fielded England international Micah Richards and Brazilian right back Maicon as over-age players in their side. Admission is free for all.
Sunday 21 April
West Brom (A Jones, Donnellan, Ambalu) 3-3 Southampton (D Daniels og, Sinclair, Seager)
Fulham (Arthurworrey, Grimmer) 2-0 Aston Villa
Friday 19 April
West Ham United (Maguire, Lee, Lletget) 3 - 2 Wolves (Winnall, Evans)
Newcastle United (Obertan 3, Aarons) 4-0 Crystal Palace
Monday 22 April
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur, Barnet FC
Blackburn Rovers v Middlesbrough, Ewood Park
Everton v Sunderland, Southport FC
Reading v Bolton Wanderers, Madejski Stadium, 1pm
Stoke City v Manchester City, Nantwich Town FC,
Download full fixture list here | For full results click here
To view the league tables after the qualificaton stage, click here