Despite taking the lead and battling hard, ten-man Southampton B eventually lost out 3-1 to Chelsea in Premier League 2 on Monday.
Kazeem Olaigbe fired Saints into the lead in the 54th minute, slamming the ball home after good hold-up play by Dan Nlundulu.
Chelsea equalised against the run of play just past the hour mark, as the lively Tino Anjorin found the far corner.
With a man up and the game back level the hosts soon took control, taking the lead through Silko Thomas in the 68th minute before adding a third through substitute Xavier Mbuyamba three minutes later.
Saints welcomed back two familiar faces to the side for Monday night’s fixture at Kingsmeadow.
Nlundulu and Kayne Ramsay both started, with Oludare Olufunwa also named amongst the substitutes for the first time this season after an extended time out with injury.
Chelsea’s line-up included the likes of George McEachran, who scored last-time-out against West Ham to rescue a point, and Thierno Ballo, one of the four scorers at Snows Stadium earlier in the season.
It was the hosts who had the opening chance of the game; a clever corner routine resulted in a deep cross which was met by centre back Sam McClelland who could only head straight at Jack Bycroft.
Saints responded with a break of their own on 11 minutes, led by Sam Bellis who could only force a corner from a tight angled shot.
The pace and strength of the returning Nlundulu gave the visitors an added impetuous going forward, evident during a quick free kick on 15 minutes which saw the Saints forward evade three Chelsea men as he looked to counter.
The Blue’s threat remained though on the counter, the likes of Anjorin, Marcel Lewis and George Nunn using their pace to bomb forward on either flank.
Another glorious chance from a deep cross fell to Chelsea in the 27th minute, this time full back Dynel Simeu heading over from just outside the six-yard box.
Chelsea started to dominate proceedings as the half hour mark came into play; the lively Anjorin feeding through Silko Thomas who delayed his shot, giving Allan Tchaptchet the chance to slide in and deflect the ball behind.
Bycroft was then called into action in the 33rd minute, rushing out to deny Lewis at the death with a shot seemingly imminent.
With the game ticking towards half-time the tide turned once again, with Saints now in the ascendancy after withstanding the home side’s pressure.
Nlundulu was once again the focal point of each attack, clearly benefiting from the weeks of experience with the first team this season.
Equally as lively in the half’s closing stages was Olaigbe, who skipped past three Chelsea players with superb close control in the 43rd minute before being halted just shy of the penalty area.
But the final chance of the first 45 would fall to the hosts; Lewis with a free kick on the left side which fell to the head of Anjorin who could only glance his effort wide.
Into the second half and little changed in regard to the direct threat posed by Chelsea’s Anjorin, the 19-year-old causing havoc to the Saints back line with his direct runs in behind.
The game’s first major incident so far occurred then came in the 49th minute, as Ramsay was sent off for a second bookable offence much to the bemusement of the Saints bench.
This didn’t dent Saints’ enthusiasm, however, with the visitors taking the lead in the 53rd minute.
A long ball from defence sent Nlundulu through, who used his presence to hold up the ball surrounded by two Chelsea defenders before Olaigbe followed in to slam home the opener.
The pressure didn’t stop there from Dave Horseman’s side; Zuriel Otseh-Taiwo bursting down the right wing and producing a cross which eventually found Bellis, who could only shoot over with his first time effort.
Despite penning the home side in their own half for the majority of the early second 45 minutes, Chelsea equalised on the hour mark following a quick counter.
Befitting of his hard work so far this evening, Anjorin burst into the box before finding the far corner to level the scores.
Chelsea now on level terms and a man up then began to control the game, completeing the comeback in the 68th minute.
A low ball across the box from the right flank was eventually met by Lewis, who found Thomas with a clever flick before the latter fired the ball into the far corner.
It wasn’t long before the hosts added a third from a free kick, substitute Mbuyamba heading home inside a crowded penalty area in the 71st minute.
With a two-goal advantage Chlesea felt comfortable enough to let Saints have the ball, sitting deep as the visitors looked to grab a foothold.
Then, in the 81st minute, the hosts countered and won a penalty as Anjorin was fouled inside the area.
Up stepped Anjorin, who dragged his low effort well wide of the left-hand post, much to the relief of the Saints entourage.
Saints continued to battle as the game drew closer to its finale, questioning how different this game will have been if both sides had 11 players.
The young front line consisting of Olaigbe, Ramello Mitchell and substitute Jayden Smith pushed Chelsea back right to the last as Saints searched for a deserved consolation.
A return to the side for Olufunwa also formed a positive on the evening, but it was utlimatley defeat for Horseman’s side on the road.
They will look to put things right next Monday with a visit to Leicester City.