U21 REACTION: Hunter hails Saints' spirit after cup success

By SFC Media time Mon 20 Apr B Team

Martin Hunter hailed the spirit shown by his team that saw them over the line in their Under-21 Premier League Cup final victory over Blackburn Rovers on Monday.

Saints picked up the trophy on a memorable night at St Mary’s thanks to Sam Gallagher’s extra-time screamer.

Ryan Seager had earlier given the hosts the lead in front of over 12,000 fans at St Mary’s before they were pegged back by Matt Targett’s unfortunate own goal but, speaking to Southampton’s official YouTube channel, Hunter couldn’t hide his delight at his team’s showing.

“Great night, fabulous performance,” summised the Technical Director. “I thought we played particularly well first half, created loads of chances, then in the second half we got the goal that we needed and then disappointed the way we conceded the goal and obviously Harry getting two yellows made it difficult.

“That’s when I think the togetherness of the squad showed. They’re willing to work hard for each other, and some of the individual defending was terrific.

“Ronald (Koeman) was chatting about the pressure of the game and with them being able to deal with it, and they’ve done that to a man this evening.”

Rovers’ leveller in the 69th minute saw the game go into extra time, where Gallagher’s long-ranger won it just three minutes into the first period.

Hunter, though, was quick to praise others, declaring the trophy win a triumph for all the hard work that goes in behind the scenes at Saints.

“I thought they were very calm – we asked for that. I thought they were positive when they could get hold of possession, and it was difficult, but it just shows how fit the players are, playing quite a substantial amount of time with ten men, but that’s credit to the academy,” he said.

“(I am) immensely proud, but there are lots more people that have worked and helped these players – I’m just lucky enough to be the coach of the team at the moment, but this is a club effort.”

And Hunter thanked the 12,356-strong crowd who roared Southampton on t victory, especially after the late dismissal of Harrison Reed.

He also said that Gallagher’s spectacular winner, which came in front of the Northam Stand, would live long in the memory.

“I think he’ll remember that for years to come, and so will I,” he said.

“From minute one to the end of the game, their support was invaluable. Maybe they were the 11th player that we needed on the pitch – they were magnificent.”

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