Former Premier League defender Radhi Jaidi praised all connected with South Shields after leading Southampton to victory in the inaugural South Shields FC International Tournament over the weekend.
The Saints’ Under-23s team defeated hosts Shields 3-0 in Saturday’s semi-final before seeing off the challenge of Olympique de Marseille with a 2-0 victory in Sunday’s final.
Ex-Bolton Wanderers, Birmingham City and Southampton defender Jaidi – who won 105 caps for Tunisia during his playing days – manages the impressive young Saints, and was full of praise for the hosts after a successful weekend.
He posted on Twitter: “Thank you for the warm welcome and hospitality, South Shields FC.
“Great atmosphere and good experience for our boys.
“Happy to win the tournament.”
Southampton’s academy is renowned, having nurtured the likes of Gareth Bale, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and numerous other top-flight stars over the last two decades.
The future continues to appear bright at St Mary’s, with a number of youngsters catching the eye over the weekend at Mariners Park, including Jake Hesketh, who scored twice against Shields.
The club would like to thank all involved with Southampton, Marseille and Celtic for visiting Mariners Park, and we hope they all enjoyed the weekend.
IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
Southampton underlined their reputation as one of the country’s top academies by sweeping their way to the inaugural South Shields FC International Tournament title over the weekend.
The Saints competed with hosts South Shields, Celtic and Marseille in a three-day festival of football at Mariners Park as top talent from across the continent was put on show.
Southampton ultimately had too much for their competitors, beating Shields 3-0 in Saturday’s semi-final before overcoming Marseille 2-0 in the final.
The Mariners were beaten 2-1 by Celtic in the third-place play-off, but were left to reflect on plenty of positives after a weekend which saw them come up against two impressive Under-23s sides.
The tournament got underway on Friday, with Marseille taking on Celtic.
The match was abandoned after 69 minutes with the score standing at 1-0 to the French side, whose goal was scored by Zacharie Iscaye.
A thunderstorm forced the game’s abandonment as the officials took the players off the pitch for their own safety.
It was decided that the result would stand at 1-0, and so Marseille progressed to the final.
Hosts Shields made their bow in the tournament on Saturday, and made a bright start against Southampton.
The Mariners enjoyed good possession for much of the encounter, but the Saints’ ruthlessness in the final third ultimately proved to be the difference.
Jake Hesketh – who has made several appearances for the club’s first-team – was the star of the show.
He opened the scoring on 27 minutes after Southampton won the ball in the Shields half and the ball was played to him outside the box on the left.
Hesketh skipped past one challenge and worked his way into a shooting position before rifling an effort into the top corner.
He was clinical again seven minutes before the break as he doubled Southampton’s advantage, picking out the bottom corner with a superb effort from 20 yards.
The Mariners battled to get back into it and started the second half brightly, with Matty Pattison at the heart of their attempted fightback.
However, Southampton started to regain the upper hand and after Callum Slattery hit the bar, they were awarded a controversial penalty when Barrie Smith was adjudged to have fouled Marcus Barnes.
Barnes picked himself up to rattle the spot-kick down the middle and seal Southampton’s place in the final.
The result meant Shields would contest the third-place play-off with Celtic on Sunday.
Lee Picton and Graham Fenton’s side enjoyed an impressive first half, and deservedly went in at half-time leading 1-0.
They took the lead thanks to a wonderful finish from Pattison as he guided a corner from Michael Richardson into the corner of the net.
Celtic came out for the second half with renewed vigour, and were awarded a penalty in the 48th minute when the referee blew for a foul by Gary Brown.
Leo Mazis converted the spot-kick and an entertaining contest ensued.
Shields twice went close to going back in front, with Richardson shooting wide from a Pattison corner and academy midfielder Lewis Orrell crashing an effort against the crossbar from the edge of the box.
However, it was Celtic who struck the decisive blow on 62 minutes when the ball was worked to Grant Savoury on the left of the box, and he finished low past Liam Connell in the Shields goal.
Brown had a header ruled out for offside and Michael Colquhoun was denied by a fine save as the Mariners tried to get back on level terms.
However, there were no further goals as Celtic claimed third place.
Southampton deservedly clinched the trophy with a 2-0 victory over Marseille in the final.
Slattery opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a terrific strike from 25 yards, and the Saints had several opportunities to go further ahead.
Chief among them was a penalty by Barnes, but he blazed it high over the bar as Marseille breathed a sigh of relief.
It was to prove a temporary respite, though, as Southampton wrapped things up soon after when Michael Obafemi clinically finished from just outside the area.
The Saints had done enough to claim the title.
South Shields tasted defeat for the first time in pre-season as Southampton booked their place in the final of the South Shields FC International Tournament with a clinical display.
The Saints ran out 3-0 winners to set up a final with Marseille on Sunday, with Shields to take on Celtic in the third-place play-off.
It was a keenly contested match between Shields and Southampton’s Under-23s, with the Mariners enjoying good possession for spells of it.
However, the main difference came in the final third as the Saints took their chances clinically to deservedly take the victory.
The Mariners were particularly bright in the opening 20 minutes and went close to taking the lead when a trialist whistled an effort just over from the right.
He had a further opportunity soon after, but slipped just as he was about to square the ball for a team-mate in the area.
The Saints took the lead in the 27th minute when they won the ball back from a Shields throw-in and Jake Hesketh – who has made several appearances for Southampton’s first-team – took the ball inside and thumped it into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Hesketh scored another superb goal seven minutes before half-time when he buried the ball into the bottom corner from 20 yards to underline his quality.
Shields tried to pull one back before the break, and the closest they came was an effort from distance by Dan Wright which went wide.
The Mariners started the second half strongly and threatened to get back into it, with substitute Matty Pattison at the heart of much of their good play.
Jon Shaw was denied with an effort from distance and a trialist went close, but Southampton gained the upper hand the longer the half went on.
Callum Slattery smashed an effort against the post from close range and within three minutes of that, the Saints were awarded a controversial penalty when Barrie Smith was adjudged to have fouled Marcus Barnes.
Barnes picked himself up to thrash home the penalty down the middle to all but seal Southampton’s place in the final.
They had chances to secure a bigger margin of victory, but Tyreke Johnson curled a free-kick over and Will Smallbone blazed over from 12 yards.
Shields’ brightest moment in the closing stages came courtesy of teenage substitute Callum Guy, who beat his man and backheeled the ball to Michael Richardson in the box. Richardson hit his effort just over.
Siph Mdlase should have made it four late on for the visitors when the ball was pulled across the area to him, but he skewed it wide from close range.
The Mariners’ last chance fell the way of Lee Mason, whose effort was deflected just past the post.
Shields will meet Celtic in Sunday’s third-place play-off at 1pm, with the final between Marseille and Southampton to take place at 5pm. Tickets will be available at the turnstiles.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Trialist, Hunter (Smith 34), Lough (Trialist 61), Shaw (c) (Brown 61), Morse, Turnbull, Trialist (Guy 61), Ross (Pattison 46), Finnigan (M Colquhoun 61), Wright (Richardson 61), Adams (Lough 77).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.