A 90th-minute Lewis Payne goal secured a vital point for Southampton's Under-18s at Snows Stadium, during a 1-1 draw with West Ham on Saturday.
A lively start to the game saw both sides looking to take control of proceedings, but it was West Ham who grabbed the lead after just seven minutes when they were awarded a penalty and striker Divin Mubama rolled home.
Saints fought back strongly though and were awarded a spot-kick of their own shortly after.
Shots from Luke Pearce and Riley Wright were saved well but a handball as the visitors tried to clear their lines saw the referee make his decision. Lewis Payne’s firm strike from 12 yards was then kept out once again by goalkeeper Kristjan Hegyi.
The hosts enjoyed a healthy amount of possession for the remainder of the first-half but were unable to force any further clear-cut opportunities to get back on level terms.
At the other end, West Ham midfielder Sonny Perkins went close to doubling his side’s lead on multiple occasions. His free-kick was well tipped over by Saints goalkeeper Oliver Wright before a shot from the resulting corner struck the post and allowed the hosts to clear.
Early in the second-half, the Hammers missed a huge chance to add to their advantage again as two players failed to turn home a ball that rolled right across the face of goal.
Saints tried to take advantage of the missed opportunities and went close when midfielder Ryan Finnigan rose highest to meet Matt Carson’s corner but flicked his header off target.
As the game opened up in the final stages, Oliver Wright was called upon again and made a strong save to deny goalscorer Mubama and clear the ball from danger.
Pressing from Louis Carey’s hosts looked to be worrying West Ham for a spell as they continued to search for an equaliser. Willing running in behind from Luke Pearce almost saw him break through twice but his attempts were met by solid defending from the visitors.
The last 10 minutes saw West Ham miss another good chance to make their win safe and Saints duly made them pay.
Will Tizzard’s weighted pass over the top of the defence looked to find Lewis Payne’s run and, although goalkeeper Kristjan Hegyi got to it first, his clearance cannoned back off Payne and into the net after strong closing down from the Saints full-back.
Saints Under-18s are in action again next weekend when they travel away to face Fulham on Saturday 13th March, with kick-off at 11am.