Southampton's B team fell to just their second defeat since October in Premier League 2 as Stoke City claimed all three points on Monday night.
After a first half largely dominated by the visitors, it was Abdallah Sima who gave his side the breakthrough on the slide minutes before the break.
It was an equally good start to the second half, Sima adding his and Stoke’s second on 48 minutes with a triumphant finish.
A third followed on 54 minutes, Sam Surridge following in at the back post after a pinpoint D’Margio Wright-Phillips cross.
Stoke’s line-up was full of football league experience, including the likes of Surridge, Wright-Phillips and Brighton loanee Sima. In total, half of the starting eleven had first team experience.
Saints went with the traditional mix of youth and experience, with Olly Lancashire coming back into the side as Jayden Smith and Jack Turner both kept their places within the eleven.
Zuriel Otseh-Taiwo came in at full-back, as Under-18 regular Lewis Payne prepared for Thursday night’s FA Youth Cup action with Kamari Doyle and Dom Ballard.
The hosts had the opening chance of the game, Demeaco Duhaney curling a deep cross towards the far post, where Surridge was waiting but couldn’t tap home inside six minutes.
Saints responded by applying some pressure of their own. Otseh-Taiwo burst forward before feeding Caleb Watts, who was taken out inside the box but wasn’t awarded a penalty by referee Thomas Kirk.
Next came an effort for an in-form Kazeem Olaigbe, fed through by Watts after a quick Saints break before forcing Nathan Broome into a save after 18 minutes.
A couple more chances fell the Belgian’s way in as many minutes; the first failing to hit the target as he found space on the edge before his second, a lobbed effort from the left-hand side, had the keeper scrambling towards his back post.
Saints really began to turn the screw in the build-up to the half hour mark, a right-sided corner coming inches away from the head of Lancashire, who rose highest but couldn’t connect.
Dominating the half in terms of possession and chances now it was Watts who was next to test Broome. Letting fly from range with a shot which fizzed the gloves of the keeper, but nothing more.
The Potters’ response was led by Surridge, who struck towards goal from a tight angle which Jack Bycroft did well to parry away.
It seemed this Surridge chance would be a flash in the pan in regards to chances for the home side, until the deadlock was broken by the hosts inside the 42nd minute.
After Bycroft parried a powerful shot from the left-hand side, Sima was ready and waiting to slide in and give his side the lead just three minutes prior to the break.
Saints made a switch at the break. Oludare Olufuwna went down during the first half and was forced off at the interval in place of Sam Bellis.
Stoke started the second half with an air of confidence, profiting just three minutes after the break with their second of the evening.
A low ball across the box found an unmarked Sima at the back post, who took a touch and fired home with power to double his tally and the Potters’ lead.
As the rain began to fall Saints looked for a way back into the fixture, but there hopes took another big hit on 54 minutes.
With the visitors looking to pass their way out from the back Wright-Phillips won the ball back, before finding a superb ball for Surridge who made no mistake at the back post.
A combination of the quick-fire Stoke goals and multiple injury stoppages meant the second half really failed to get going from a Saints perspective.
Lancashire was replaced on the hour mark after a collision of heads in midfield, before Bellis too had to be replaced by Teddy Davey eight minutes later.
After an end-to-end first half the second showcased little in terms of goal mouth action following the opening ten minutes.
If Saints were to get anything from the game it would come during the final ten minutes, Olaigbe first carrying the ball forward down the left flank on 78 minutes, before forcing Broome into a strong save at his near post.
Next came an effort for substitute Davey, the youngster skipping past two defenders and towards Broome who held well.
Olaigbe threatened again with two minutes to go. Once again Broome was equal to the low, well struck strike.
It went back to Davey soon after, who had a volley from the edge of the box cleared off the line by a retreating Stoke defender as the game entered stoppage time.
Despite these late flashes Saints fell to defeat at the hand of an experienced Stoke side; only their second loss in all competitions since October.
Next up is a meeting with high-flying Premier League 2 Division One side Arsenal in the Premier League Cup, with Saints hosting the Gunners at Snows Stadium on Sunday.