Southampton's B team secured another vital three points in Premier League 2 on Sunday morning, winning 2-1 against Reading at Snows Stadium.
Luke Pearce continued his fine goalscoring form with the opener on 23 minutes, hitting a confident effort first time into the bottom corner.
Thierry Small added a second on 62 minutes, Ramello Mitchell’s low cross tapped home by the full-back at the far post.
Saints named an exciting line-up at Snows Stadium; Kazeem Olaigbe and Lewis Payne joined by Nathan Tella in the eleven.
There was also a first Premier League 2 appearance of the season for Matt Hall in goal for the hosts.
It was an end-to-end start at Snows Stadium; Tella’s cross-goal ball just missing a touch into an open net at the back post, before Jahmari Clarke was denied a certain Reading goal by some superb tracking back from Lewis Payne on the line.
After a lightning start the game turned somewhat mellow. Will Tizzard with Saints’ only real glimpse of the opening 20 minutes with a glancing header just over.
It took a show of initiative for the breakthrough to come on 23 minutes, Ramello Mitchell with a superb run down the right flank which started on the halfway line.
Mitchell lifted his head and saw Pearce free inside the box, who hit a fine effort first time into the bottom corner, continuing his goalscoring streak.
Despite the opener the game remained an even encounter in the minutes following, with Reading doing particularly well to hold out that quick Saints front line.
The first 45 ended with six minutes of stoppage time due to injuries and it was the same story during the early moments of the second.
Skipper Kegs Chauke went down on 47 minutes and required four minutes of treatment before having to be replaced.
Saints continued to look a threat from set pieces, Nico Lawrence this time with a free header at the far post but unable to find the target.
The hosts added a second just past the hour mark. Mitchell again the architect with a run down the right, his cross eventually tapped home at the far post with Small’s second bite of the cherry.
Reading had a glorious chance to grab a foothold in the game on 71 minutes, a corner falling to Clarke who couldn’t direct his touch goalward.
The game started to open up. Small looking to turn provider this time with a cross from the left, which Pearce glanced towards goal and required a fine save from keeper Tom Norcott.
Next came a chance for Olaigbe, who fired a low effort towards goal from a tight angle and forced Norcott into another stop.
Pearce was next to try his luck, fed through by Smith but unable to beat the goalkeeper from a similar angle to Olaigbe’s chance.
But despite Saints’ chances it was Reading who grabbed the game’s third goal. Clarke tapping home from the six-yard box to make it a tense final three minutes plus stoppage time.
Dave Horseman’s side did a good job at protecting their lead during the game’s dying embers, shielding the ball in the corner and keeping possession for the duration.
Eventually the three points were secured in Premier League 2, moving Saints up to fourth for the time being.
Next up is another home fixture for Saints B, hosting Wolves at Staplewood Campus on Friday 25th March.