Southampton's B team made the perfect return to action as they recorded a confident win over Derby County at Snows Stadium.
After a controlled start, Kamari Doyle opened the scoring after capitalising on a defensive error in the area.
Jimmy-Jay Morgan doubled the scoring in style with an impressive finish as Saints entered the break two goals ahead.
Dom Ballard rounded off proceedings with the third goal of the game deep into stoppage time in the second half.
Dave Horseman fielded a strong side to kickstart the new year, with an unchanged forward line consisting of the in-form Morgan, Doyle, Ballard, and Sam Bellis.
Will Tizzard started in the heart of defence alongside Nico Lawrence, with the former returning to the squad from his productive loan spell at Chippenham Town.
Saints began as if they’d never left, slipping into the confident groove they had established prior to the winter break.
The ball was in the back of the net after just two minutes as Morgan confidently slotted home a one-on-one opportunity, only to be denied by the offside flag.
Doyle then came close with a free-kick from the edge of the area, which was gathered by Joseph Anang in the visitors’ goal.
Just five minutes later, however, the lively midfielder was on hand to open the scoring as he capitalised on a mishit clearance to pass the loose ball into the bottom corner.
One goal quickly became two as Morgan doubled Saints’ advantage in the 22nd minute.
Picking up a fizzed pass from Thierry Small, he created space with a perfectly timed nutmeg before bending a delicious shot past Anang’s despairing dive.
Morgan almost had his second, and Saints’ third, before the half hour with another audacious effort.
The in-form forward was released by Ballard and attempted to lob the goalkeeper from the edge of the area.
Doyle then came even closer to adding to the lead as he struck the post with a left footed effort unleashed after an impressive driving run
With the half drawing to a close, the visitors almost had their first shot on goal but George Nunn’s effort was denied by a heroic block from Thierry Small.
There was still time for Saints to strike the woodwork once more before the break as Ballard this time hit the post from a tight angle.
The visitors began the second half with a more threatening approach as they needed inspiration to get back into the tie.
Ollie Wright was called upon at his near post to deny a close-range shot and maintain the two-goal advantage.
With the hour approaching, Ballard almost found the elusive third for Saints with a mazy run and angled shot that was saved by the goalkeeper.
Chances were few and far between for both sides from then, as Horseman’s side began to confidently manage their way through the closing stages.
A goal bound free kick from Ola Ibrahim was close for Derby, but Wright was alert to palm the ball away from danger.
Visiting substitute Sonny Blu Lo-Everton produced some impressive close control to charge into the penalty area in the final five minutes, but Wright was in place to smother the shot.
The victory was wrapped up in stoppage time as Ballard’s efforts were finally rewarded with a breakaway goal as he outmuscled the defender and drove into the area before converting at the second attempt.