A makeshift Southampton B team turned on the style at St Mary’s Stadium with a resounding 7-1 win over Colchester United in the Premier League Cup.
After a nervy start that saw the visitors take the lead, Saints responded with four first half goals including a Sam Bellis hat-trick.
Luke Pearce got on the scoresheet just after the break along with Under-16 star Jay Robinson, who marked his B team debut with a memorable goal.
Will Merry rounded off the goalscoring with his second of the
With several B team regulars preparing for Saturday’s FA Youth Cup tie, or enjoying a period of training with the first team squad, Dave Horseman had to ring the changes as his side took to St Mary’s Stadium for the first time this season.
B team debuts were handed to first year scholar, Alfie Prescott, as well as Under-16s stars Tommy Dobson-Ventura and Jay Robinson, whilst Willy Caballero lined up in between the sticks.
After scoring last weekend against the U’s, Pearce led the line in the absence of Dom Ballard and Jimmy-Jay Morgan.
With less than 30 seconds on the clock, Pearce almost found himself on the scoresheet as his early shot had to be well saved and award Saints an early corner.
For the opening exchanges from then on, Colchester were largely on top - as they were on their own turf last weekend.
An untimely slip from Joshua Lett gave Josh Anifowose an invitation to race through on goal but, with Caballero in his way, the forward could only drag his shot wide.
Moments later, Jayden Fevrier also pulled an effort wide of the target much to the growing frustrations of his teammates.
Saints’ first chance fell to Bellis in the 10th minute after a nice team move, but his shot was blocked out for a corner.
Merry came even closer to finding an opener in the 20th minute, holding off his marker well to control Robinson’s cross, but he could only strike the post on the turn.
Just as Saints were appearing to find a foothold, it was the visitors who opened the scoring.
Fevrier again sparked danger on the right wing, this time finding space to drill in a low cross that Bradley Ihionvien was able to poke home with his outstretched leg.
The visitors only led for a brief spell, however, as Saints responded and never looked back when they found their groove.
Bellis slotted home his first of the evening with a calm finish into the bottom corner, after a deflected Prescott cross found him free in the area.
A goal of a completely different creation followed as a team move, which began from Caballero and featured almost the entire Saints team, led to a parried shot that was tapped home by Merry.
After a foul in the penalty area just three minutes later, Bellis stepped up to convert from the spot as the tide had truly turned at St Mary’s.
Bellis’ hat-trick was completed on the stroke of half time with the pick of the bunch; brimming with confidence, the striker curled an excellent shot into the top right corner from the edge of the area.
After the break, Saints showed no signs of letting up and inflicted further damage just three minutes into the second half.
Luke Pearce was played through on goal and made no mistake with his one-on-one opportunity, scoring his second goal against the U’s in as many games.
With just over an hour on the clock, the lead was further increased in a fantastic moment for young debutant Robinson.
The Under-16s star had a simple task to tap home after being found inside the area with plenty of space to shoot.
The final goal of the night fell for Merry, who capped off an excellent personal performance with a brace of his own, confidently slotting past the corner after another breakaway run.
The impressive victory seals qualification from Group F in the Premier League Cup with two games to spare.
Saints host Everton at the Snows Stadium next weekend looking to preserve their perfect record and secure top spot.