Date: 6th July 2018 at 7:00am
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Thursday afternoon saw the Southampton first team group blow off the cobwebs in good style as our pre-season game schedule kicked off properly out in China.

With the players already having been back in training for a decent chunk of time, despite the early stage we are at this summer, Southampton battled to a 3-3 draw with our Bundesliga opponents at the Kunshan Sports Centre Stadium with goals coming from Nathan Redmond, Harrison Reed and Jake Hesketh.

With last season’s struggles in front of goal, the high point was in seeing heads not drop as we initially fell behind in the opening 45 minutes before drawing level and then getting our heads in front on two occasions. Leaking three goals can be forgiven at this stage I think, especially as Hughes changed the whole squad up at the halftime mark leaving Schalke with more consistency in understanding as they did only make two substitutions in the entire 90-minutes.

Hughes was certainly pleased with the run out we received from the Bundesliga runners-up in 2017/18 and the biggest delight no doubt was in seeing a far more youthful side really take the game to them in the second period.

“I enjoyed the game. We were up against a quality team. They are a high pressing team and that will help us because we will face teams like that in the Premier League.”

Whilst there are obviously differences between the two domestic leagues, there’s certainly something to be said for German opposition in terms of the comparisons that can be made in relative styles of play. As Hughes referenced in his wider comments, the conditions themselves led to some apprehension pre-game with the weather and humidity but having hoped to get 45 minutes into as many as possible, that aim was achieved so it will bring everyone on nicely as our intensity in training continues to grow.

He was also pleased to report that there were no injury concerns which is an added bonus.

As for the game itself, the Welshman admitted that we were certainly sloppy at points and things were a ‘little bit off’ but that’s to be expected at the moment and can be worked on, even though it naturally improve as players get fitter anyway.

“There was a willingness to try to make things happen,” Hughes added. Clearly, it’s our first game and some of our accuracy was a little bit off. It wasn’t a case of doing the wrong things, we were just a little bit lacking in that technical element that comes from training more and playing more. That will build as we get towards the season. Overall, it was a good workout and the younger guys who came on for the second half acquitted themselves very well.”

Fans were certainly pleased with the outcome from the first game and applauded some classy behaviour from our opposition.


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