Southampton's unbeaten run in Premier League 2 came to an end on Monday night, falling to a comeback victory at the hands of Birmingham City.
Luke Pearce continued his fine goalscoring form for the B team with the opener on 24 minutes, played in on goal by Lewis Payne.
A second followed less than ten minutes later. Pearce this time with the assist to feed Kazeem Olaigbe, who marked his new deal last week with another Premier League 2 goal.
Birmingham’s comeback started just four minutes after, Josh Williams bursting down the left wing and finishing past Ollie Wright.
The scores were then levelled on 66 minutes, Kieran Wakefield slotting home during the second half.
An eventual winner followed four minutes from time. Substitute Kyle Hurst completing the unlikeliest of comebacks.
Saints lined up in a 3-4-2-1 formation, with Jack Turner and Thierry Small occupying positions further up the pitch in support of striker Pearce. There were also returns for skipper Kegs Chauke and experienced defender Olly Lancashire.
Birmingham’s side included a place for 28-year-old Andre Wisdom, who was looking for some minutes ahead of his move from Derby County.
There was a minute silence ahead of kick-off in memory of Bailey Owen, a former Saints Academy player who sadly passed away recently.
Saints were almost ahead after just six minutes. Pearce bursting in behind the Birmingham defence, his one-on-one effort well saved by an onrushing keeper Zach Jeacock.
Despite the hosts following this chance up with a couple of set pieces, it was the visitors who enjoyed the better of the opening quarter of an hour.
Birmingham’s pressing game limited the early possession for Dave Horseman’s side, whilst the Blues carried the ball forward on numerous occasions. Just missing the final ball.
Olaigbe looked to spark his side back into life on 20 minutes, flashing a low cross across the face of goal but with no Saints recipient on the end of it.
Birmingham then threatened a break, led by the pacey Williams. His eventual pass well intended for Kieron Wakefield well cut out by a backtracking Will Tizzard.
As the game began to open up it was the hosts who would profit first on 24 minutes.
Payne, who had proved a real threat down the right flank during the first half, finding the run of Pearce who made no mistake with his one-on-one this time around.
The open nature of the game continued, Birmingham not disheartened by going behind and continuing to enjoy possession in the final third.
But once again it was Saints who were more clinical. Pearce turning provider this time around to feed Olaigbe, who was never going to miss with just the keeper to beat on 32 minutes.
The Blues needed to take their chances if they were to get anything from a game fast running away from them, Williams doing exactly that after being two behind for just four minutes.
Birmingham’s quick winger burst down the left wing, before confidently finishing past Wright into the far corner.
In search of the leveller the visitors made a double switch at the break, Tahith Chong replaced by George Hall whilst Wisdom came out for Rico Browne.
It certainly had the desired effect during the opening moments, keeping Saints penned back and threatening down both flanks.
That meant it was up to the hosts to use the counter where possible, by no means a secondary form of attack with the likes of Pearce, Olaigbe and Payne ready and waiting.
Add into that attack Kamari Doyle, who came on for the injured Turner just shy of the hour mark.
After a quieter spell in the game that will have suited Saints on their lead, the visitors had their equaliser.
Oriol Soldevila found the run of Wakefield on 66 minutes, who finished into the bottom corner to make it 2-2.
In search of their lead back Horseman handed a debut to exciting young forward Jimmy-Jay Morgan, who had been in fine for form the Under-18s side recently.
It was the youngster who almost put Saints back in front on 81 minutes, playing a neat one-two with Doyle but his eventual shot blocked behind.
His involvements continued three minutes later, finding space in behind before producing a square ball. A move that proved perfect right up until the finish, with no Saints player following in.
Against the odds the next goal would fall to the visitors.
Substitute Hurst found some space just to the right of the penalty area after a counter, before producing a powerful finish towards the far corner. Keeper Wright could only parry into the side netting.
The hosts tried to bounce back during the final moments but were ultimately frustrated during a disappointing evening at the training ground.
They will look to bounce back with the visit of Nottingham Forest to St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday, which supporters can