Not for the first time at this level, United found themselves in a tough game on the south coast and, for the second time this season, went down to a defeat in the dying minutes of the game.
Despite an open first half, there were very few chances. The frenetic pace prevented the Reds stringing together more than a handful of passes and, when they threatened to do so, they were quickly closed down by a lively Southampton side. With the game straddled by the rarity this season of two senior games within three days, the Reds fielded none of the fringe first team players that have been a feature of recent Under 21 sides, with the exception of Jonny Evans, still making his way back from injury, and a younger United side lacked the composure that Januzaj and Herrera brought to the team against Blackburn last week.
That’s not to suggest the younger players were out of their depth. There were several impressive interventions from Donald Love, a player thrust into the action as a replacement for the injured Tom Thorpe and enjoying the experience of playing alongside the experienced Evans.
It was Evans who kept United level in the 64th minute when he got back well to hook a looping Seager header off the line. It was the first genuine scoring opportunity of the game and a reminder to the Reds that, in a game like this, an out of the blue goal was increasingly likely to settle things. It was soon followed by a flurry of goalmouth action in the United box. Targett hit a dangerous free kick from twenty yards that dipped and glanced off the United crossbar. The same player then put a teasing cross into the United box that none of his team mates could get a touch on.
United were denied what looked a good shout for a penalty when Weir was seemingly upended inside the area. Southampton continued to have the momentum, though, and went close again when a left-footed shot from Rowe struck the post before falling into the grateful hands of Amos. Just as it looked as if United had seen off the threat, however, the prolific Seager pounced in the area to slot past Amos and give his side victory.
Southampton’s second half performance probably made them deserving winners, but United will rue again the disappointment of conceding a late goal to lose for the second time this season.