Southampton’s B team exited the Premier League Cup at the quarter-final stage as they were knocked out by Blackburn Rovers at Staplewood.
After an even start, quickfire finishes from James Edmunson and Harley O’Grady-Macken gave Blackburn a two-goal lead.
Saints quickly responded as Sam Amo-Ameyaw’s shot was deflected in off Clinton Mola, but the visitors restored the two-goal lead through Ethan Walker before half time.
Zak Gilsenan added the fourth and final goal moments after the restart to secure Rovers’ passage into the semi-finals
Saints lined up for their first PL Cup quarter-final since 2015 with a sprinkling of senior involvement alongside several of the Under-18s contingent that have become B team regulars this campaign.
James Bree and Lyanco started alongside Losh Lett and Jayden Meghoma in the back line, whilst Mislav Oršić also started at Staplewood.
Against the opponents from a division above, Kamari Doyle took the captain’s armband in an attacking quartet that was completed by Amo-Ameyaw, Tyler Dibling, and Will Merry.
In a fairly even start to the game, both goalkeepers were largely untroubled in the opening stages; Ollie Wright was called upon first to safely punch away an Edmunson effort from the edge of the box.
Up the other end Dibling responded, but his near post shot was saved by Aidan Dowling after some close control in the area from the Saints winger.
Both sides traded chances again ten minutes later as Rovers’ defender Clinton Mola drove forward but saw his shot easily gathered by Wright, before Oršić had a shot from range parried with the rebound from Merry fired just wide.
As the game passed the twenty minute mark, two quickfire goals from the visitors saw them suddenly race into the lead; Edmunson pounced on a loose pass and rifled a shot into the top corner from the edge of the area before O’Grady-Macken drilled home a low effort from close range.
Saints responded quickly, as they did find ways to cut through their higher division opponents.
Amo-Ameyaw was set free on the right and his shot was bundled in by the backpeddling Mola for an almost instant reply.
The next goal could prove vital and Saints knew that as they hunted for an equaliser before half time with Doyle forcing a near post save from a clever free-kick.
Oršić also tried his luck once more with an ambitious long range attempt that just bounced wide with Dowling almost caught out in the Rovers goal.
However, it was Blackburn who managed to strike at the perfect time before and after the break to put the score beyond reach.
After some smart play from O’Grady-Macken on the right, his low pass across goal was tapped in by Walker in virtually the last action of the first half.
Then, just minutes after the restart, Gilsenan was first to react to a loose ball and hit a well-struck half volley into the bottom corner.
The game didn’t end without chances for an unlikely comeback, with Amo-Ameyaw and Cam Bragg having shots saved and blocked in quick succession.
Doyle had two chances from distance as the game reached the closing stages, but he couldn’t find a way past Dowling.
Saints’ best Premier League Cup run since 2015 came to an end against their Division One opponents, leaving the PL2 run-in to focus on as they travel to Aston Villa next week.