Southampton's B team were defeated 3-0 by Norwich City at Staplewood Campus on the opening day of the 2021/22 Premier League 2 season.
Norwich took the lead 18 minutes into the first-half, Abu Kamara winning and converting a penalty despite a promising Saints start.
The Canaries doubled their lead just shy of the half-hour mark, Kamara involved again as he touched the ball in from close range.
Saints started the second half brightly but it was Norwich who profited, Kamara grabbing his hat-trick via another penalty on 55 minutes.
The first Saints B line-up of the campaign saw new additions Dynel Simeu and Olly Lancashire start, alongside returns for Ryan Finnigan and Dare Olufunwa following their pre-season trips to Wales with the first team.
Norwich, who finished eleventh in Division 2 last season, came fresh off of an unbeaten pre-season which included a draw at high-flying PL2 side Blackburn Rovers at the start of the month.
The opening chances of the game all fell to the hosts, Lancashire first to threaten the Canaries with a half volley after just five minutes.
Then came a chance for Caleb Watts, who reclaimed possession in the middle of the park before forcing a corner from a tight angle after a surge into the box.
But it was the visitors who would take the lead thanks to the quick feet of Kamara just shy of 20 minutes.
The Norwich forward danced his way into the box before being fouled by Jack Bycroft forcing the referee to point to the spot.
Kamara won and then took the spot-kick, putting the Canaries ahead on 18 minutes.
Saints’ response came through Kazeem Olaigbe, who cut inside from the left flank and hit both posts as the ball somehow stayed out.
Despite the positive response the game’s second goal came for the visitors, Kamara glancing home from close range for his and Norwich’s second on 31 minutes.
The spirits of the home side weren’t dampened, however, Lewis Payne bursting forward on the left wing before finding Jayden Smith, who was denied a certain goal by a superb Joe Rose point-blank save.
Saints continued to enjoy the lion’s share of the ball, but Norwich did well to see their hosts out as it remained 2-0 at the break.
Benni Smales-Braithwaite signalled Saints’ intent at the start of the second half, cutting into the penalty area and forcing Rose to tip an effort behind the post.
Then came a chance for Payne minutes after, the full-back receiving the ball at the back post but unable to find the target as two Canaries defenders closed in.
Despite another bright Saints spell the third goal of the game came Norwich’s way; Kamara claiming his hat-trick from the penalty spot after Jon Rowe was bought down.
The tempo of the game dropped considerably following the third Canaries goal, with both sides seeing most of their possession played out in the middle of the park.
Dave Horseman made some changes to try and turn the tide, Ramello Mitchell and Zuriel Otseh-Taiwo both being introduced.
The biggest chance following the goal came as late as the 81st minute, Mitchell profiting off of a poor back pass before laying the ball off to Watts who rattled the far post with a first time shot.
But despite some promising signs Saints ended opening day of the PL2 season with a defeat.
Horseman’s side will look to bounce back on Monday 23rd August with a trip to Nottingham Forest.