Southampton’s B team recorded a second successive victory in Premier League 2 with a 3-1 win on the road against Sunderland.
A brace for Jimmy-Jay Morgan and a goal for Tyler Dibling in a dominant first half was enough to secure three points in the North East.
Sunderland rallied at the start of the second half to pull a goal back, but Saints rode the storm and held out for the win.
Following on from Saints’ resounding win over Middlesbrough at Staplewood, there were nine changes as a more recognised B team returned to action.
Dave Horseman’s side were back in the North East for the second time in three weeks and were boosted with the return of Jimmy-Jay Morgan, Tyler Dibling, and Jayden Meghoma to the starting line-up - the trio all back in the side after being on international duty with England.
With a handful of players also featuring in the Under-18s Premier League Cup on Saturday, Luke Pearce and Sam Bellis were handed starts as Dom Ballard and Sam Amo-Ameyaw took their place on the bench.
Saints made a composed start to the afternoon, looking to break down a compact Sunderland outfit.
Despite the early possession largely favouring the visitors, it was the hosts who forced the first opportunity with Ollie Wright called into action after 10 minutes.
Two saves in quick succession were needed to deny Max Thompson’s one-on-one effort and a headed rebound from inside the area.
Early signs in front of goal were there for Horseman’s side as well, with Morgan meeting a cross from Zuriel Otseh-Taiwo and volleying just wide.
Bellis and Doyle tried their luck just minutes apart, both shooting from range with attempts that drifted wide and found the arms of the goalkeeper respectively.
With 16 minutes on the clock, the scoring was opened from the penalty spot; Morgan stepped up to calmly pass the ball into the bottom corner after being fouled in the area.
After the opener, Saints had seized control and were utilising their possession well and pressing their opponents from the front.
It took just 10 minutes to extend the lead as Morgan, fresh from a three-goal haul with England, closed down Jacob Carney in goal and forced the clearance to rebound off him into the bottom corner.
In a matter of minutes, two goals swiftly became three as another returning international added his name to the scoresheet.
Dibling created space for himself after being played in by Pearce, and fired the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
There was almost a fourth before the break as Bellis hit a well-struck shot which was pushed onto the post and kept out.
Sunderland did create some chances in the closing stages of the half neither Leon Dajaku’s close-range header or Michael Spellman’s shot could find the target as Saints kept their healthy lead.
After half time, however, the three-goal cushion was swiftly reduced as Olly Lancashire couldn’t help but divert a cross from the right into his own goal.
The hosts had started the second period much brighter and continued to find a way back into the game. Dajaku had a low effort that was saved by Wright, before Ellis Taylor tried his luck with two efforts before the hour mark.
Saints had appeared to ride the storm as chances for both sides filtered out.
Bellis had two free-kicks from distance that were narrowly off target, either side of a Sunderland chance that Spellman chipped wide at the other end.
The game concluded with an important three points secured as Horseman’s side move up the table in the chase for top spot in Premier League 2 Division 2.