Southampton Under-18s retained their 100% record in the Under-18s Premier League with a professional 3-1 win over West Ham United on Saturday.
An even first 10 minutes saw both sides battling to take control of the game and Saints were looking neat and tidy on the ball when they had it.
Visiting goalkeeper Eddie Beach was called upon to see off the first shot of the first-half when West Ham forward Sonny Perkins forced him to beat a firm effort away at his near post.
Home striker George Earthy then had two good opportunities to put his side ahead - putting a free header wide and then being denied by an excellent sliding challenge from Josh Squires when cutting back onto his left foot.
Saints started to create their own openings soon after though. Fedel Ross-Lang was twice involved when he tested Hammers’ goalkeeper Jacob Knightbridge from range and then drove a fierce cross right across the area.
Further chances for Dom Ballard and Junior Robinson came and went but it was Saints who took the lead with 31 minutes on the clock.
Tyler Dibling forced his way into a scoring position and took full advantage when the ball bounced his way by hooking acrobatically into the far corner – a classy finish to break the deadlock in what had been a keenly contested affair.
West Ham looked for an instant reply, however, and Beach had to be alert again to see off Perkins’ close-range strike and Lewis Orford’s fizzing volley from outside the area.
With their final attack before half-time, Saints broke quickly. Just three passes shifted the ball from goalkeeper Beach, through Josh Squires in midfield and on to Ross-Lang again on the left wing, but he saw his shot flash narrowly wide after a driving run towards the penalty area.
Saints had to work hard to retain their lead in the opening stages of the second-half as West Ham put them under significant pressure.
Beach produced a great save when the lively Perkins tested him with a stinging drive and Perkins could still not find the net when he dragged an effort across goal shortly after.
Saints held out well until the 64th minute when West Ham claimed their leveller through Gideon Kodua’s header, but that seemed to spark something deep within Carl Martin’s side who struck back with two quick fire goals of their own.
After breaking forward and forcing a corner, last weekend’s five-goal hero Kami Doyle played in the perfect delivery for Jem Hewlett to rise highest and power his header into the corner of the net.
Just two minutes later, Saints’ lead was stretched to two when Dom Ballard weaved his into the box from the left and lifted a composed finish over advancing keeper Knightbridge.
The final stages of the game were expertly seen out by Saints as blocks and clearances helped to see their win out and ensured that they claimed maximum points from the opening three fixtures of the season.
Saints are next in action on Saturday 11th September when they host Arsenal at Staplewood Training campus, with kick-off at 11:30am BST.