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Friday 04 April 2014

Barclays U21s: Saints rise to second place

Southampton win five-goal thriller to move into second place ahead of tonight's fixtures

  • Omar Rowe scored twice against Newcastle. Photo: Paul Watts/Southampton FC

  • Saints are up to second place ahead of tonight's matches. Photo: Paul Watts/Southampton FC

  • Everton's Conor McAleny holds off the challenge of Arsenal's Hector Bellerin

Southampton 3-2 Newcastle United

Southampton moved up to second in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League with an exciting victory over Newcastle United at St Mary’s Stadium on Thursday afternoon.

In what was Southampton Under-21s’ last regular-season match of the season, the hosts fell behind inside the first two minutes through Liam Smith’s strike on the rebound from Michael Richardson’s initial prodded effort.

Harrison Reed equalised with an impressive finish from 25 yards inside the quarter-hour before Omar Rowe edged Saints in front late in the first half after stealing possession and sending a shot into the top corner.

Newcastle were back on level terms moments later when Gael Bigirimana followed up an initial shot with a calm finish from close range, but the Magpies were pegged back for a second time when Rowe met a cross with a spectacular volley to guarantee the hosts the spoils.

Substitute Josh Sims, who returned fresh from England Under-17 duty to sign professional terms with the club that day, tested Mitchell late on with a drive from an acute angle but failed to extend Saints' lead.

Reading 1-1 Sunderland

Sunderland’s hopes of finishing in the top four play-off places suffered a setback as they were held to a draw by Reading.

The damage might have been worse for the Black Cats, who fell behind to Gozie Ugwu’s low strike from the right of the area just before the hour. But the visitors got back in the match when striker Mikael Mandron fired in the rebound off the bar after his penalty had been saved by Dan Lincoln. 

Although Craig Tanner also hit the woodwork for the hosts, both sides had to settle for a point that keeps Kevin Ball’s charges in sixth, two points behind fourth-placed Manchester City, who have two matches in hand. Reading, meanwhile, climb above Arsenal into 17th place.

Everton 2-1 Arsenal

Magaye Gueye struck twice as Everton racked up their second win of the week with a 2-1 defeat of Arsenal at Southport's Merseyrail Community Stadium.

Gueye, who had also started Monday's 3-1 victory against Southampton, opened the scoring with a spectacular free-kick from 25 yards before doubling his side's advantage shortly after the break. Arsenal hit back through winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles, but could not find an equalising goal to deny the Blues three valuable points in their quest for a top-half finish, and prevent themselves from suffering a third successive defeat.

The sides who finish in the top 11 places will seal a place in the top division when the division splits into two next season.

Anfield opens doors

Liverpool can return to the top of the league this evening with a home win over Norwich City at Anfield. The Reds suffered a 2-1 away defeat against Fulham on Tuesday, who leapfrogged them into first place as a result. However, Alex Inglethorpe's third-placed side, who have two matches in hand over the west Londoners, can return to the summit with a home win against the Canaries this evening. Entry to the match is free for season-ticket holders, £5 for adult non-season-ticket holders and £2 for concessions.

Should the Merseysiders slip up Chelsea will hope to draw level on points by overcoming Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. The Blues have been in impressive form of late, but will be taking on a side who overcame Newcastle United 4-2 earlier in the week. Three points for on Friday could lift the Potters up into 13th position.

Tickets for the game, which kicks off at 7pm, have been priced at £3 for adults and £1 for children. Season Card holders can gain free entry on production of their Season Cards. Admission for spectators will be through Gate B of the Q-Railing Stand.

Top of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League table

CLUB

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

Fulham

20

11

5

4

37

28

9

38

Southampton

21

11

3

7

35

30

5

36

Liverpool

18

11

2

5

49

28

21

35

Manchester City

17

11

1

5

43

21

22

34

Chelsea

16

9

5

2

36

20

16

32

Sunderland

19

9

5

5

35

30

5

32

Find out the full Barclays U21 Premier League fixture list here and view the table here.

Barclays Under-21 Premier League results

3 April
Southampton (Reed, Rowe 2) 3-2 Newcastle United (Smith, Bigirimana)
Everton (Gueye 2) 2-1 Arsenal (Maitland-Niles)
Reading (Ugwu) 1-1 Sunderland (Mandron)

Barclays Under-21 Premier League fixtures

4 April
7pm Liverpool v Norwich City, Anfield
7pm Stoke City v Chelsea, Britannia Stadium

You can follow developments on Twitter with the Premier League's account @premierleague or via the hashtag #BU21PL

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Key Points

  • Southampton up to second place in Barclays Under-21 Premier League after 3-2 win over Newcastle
  • Sunderland held at Reading while Everton sink Arsenal
  • Tonight at 7pm Liverpool play Norwich at Anfield and Chelsea visit Stoke at the Britannia Stadium