Southampton's B team suffered defeat at St Mary's in their penultimate game of the Premier League 2 season, with Everton 5-0 victors on Sunday.
Everton took the lead within the first two minutes, Nathan Broadhead netting his eleventh goal of the season with a solo effort.
Despite Saints enjoying moat of the first-half possession the Toffees added a second on 20 minutes, as Charlie Whitaker finished off a quick break with a chipped finish.
A third Everton goal came just shy of the break, Stan Mills finding the top corner from an unmarked position inside the box.
The fourth and fifth goals came via substitutes; first Sean McAllister, who slotted past Harry Lewis with just over 20 minutes to go, then Tom Cannon, who replicated McAllister’s finish ten minutes later.
Saints welcomed back a few familiar names for the match at St Mary’s stadium; Dan Nlundulu, Nathan Tella, Will Ferry, Alex Jankewitz and keeper Lewis all starting.
Also amongst the starting eleven was Michael Obafemi, who returned for his first taste of competitive action since his surgery in January.
The game got off to the best possible start for the visitors, Broadhead bursting down the left wing and cutting inside, before firing past Lewis to give the toffees the lead after just two minutes.
David Unsworth’s side nearly netted a second on five minutes, this time Rhys Hughes letting fly from the edge of the box but dragging his low effort wide.
Saints’ first chance came in the tenth minute; Tella finding space just inside the penalty area as he looked for the far corner, causing keeper Harry Tyrer to palm his effort onto the post.
Tella was involved again five minutes later, following up Nlundulu’s parried low shot before he was fouled inside the six-yard box.
Despite the referee initially awarding a penalty, it was eventually pulled back for an offside call but showed a clear sign of Saints’ growing presence within the game.
But though Saints had enjoyed most of the action during the last ten minutes, the next goal of the game fell to the visitors; a long Mills through ball finding Whitaker, who broke free of the defence before chipping Lewis to double the toffees’ lead.
Obafemi led the immediate reply from the hosts, twisting and turning through multiple Everton defenders before firing a fierce effort which Tyrer did well to push away.
Another chance fell to Saints on the half hour mark as Allan Tchpatchet’s surging run through midfield earned his side a free kick.
Up stepped Jankewitz, who looked for the near post and again called keeper Tryer into action.
Everton remained a threat on the counter however, as Hughes burst down the left wing with Broadhead in support but went for the near post instead of finding his man.
It was another break from the visitors which resulted in a further setback for Saints in the 34th minute, as centre back Tchaptchet was sent off for a second bookable offence.
With time ticking away towards the break the game turned into a far more even affair with both sides enjoying spells of possession.
The side to benefit from their time with the ball were Everton, Mills adding to his assist for the second with an accurate finish into the far, top corner to add a third for Unsworth’s side.
Saints made a switch at the break, James Morris replacing Obafemi to give some extra security in midfield following Tchaptchet’s dismissal.
It was a fast start from the hosts to the second 45; Nlundulu bursting down the left flank, before cutting the ball back to Morris who couldn’t find the target with a first-time strike from the edge of the box.
The left side of the field provided plenty of threat as far as Saints were concerned during the early stages of the second half, Kazeem Olaigbe next to win a dangerous free kick after a surging run down that channel.
As far as the first fifteen minutes of the new half were concerned the hosts dealt with the visitors’ threat a lot better too, quashing any form of threat they posed on the counter in a way they hadn’t done previously.
In response Everton made a double change, with McAllister and Matthew Mallon introduced and an added threat coming with it.
If Everton were to add a fourth it would be via the pacey Broadhead, who remained on the last Saints man like had done all first half.
His latest burst forward almost resulted in his second of the afternoon on 65 minutes, this time his curled effort aimed at that far corner tipped behind by Lewis.
Eventually a fourth did come and Broadhead was indeed involved, setting up substitute McAllister who beat the offside trap, before slotting past Lewis to make it 4-0.
After an even ten minutes or so, with much of the action being played in midfield, a quick Everton break resulted in a fifth as substitute Cannon producing almost a carbon copy of McAllister’s finish, set up via Whitaker’s third goal contribution of the afternoon.
During the final five minutes the visitors professionally saw out the game, with Saints enjoying most of the possession but struggling to break down the stubborn Toffees back-line.
The game eventually ended in a 5-0 defeat for Dave Horseman’s side during their last home outing of the Premier League 2 season.
It’s finale comes next Friday, with Everton again the opponents as Saints travel to Merseyside.