Southampton Under-18s fell to a 3-2 defeat at Crystal Palace on Saturday in an entertaining and highly charged U18 Premier League affair in South London.
Saints moved into a 2-1 lead in the first-half after goals from Brandon Charles and an unnamed trialist, but were pegged back by the interval.
A red card for the hosts meant plenty of pressure from the visitors in the second period, but they were to leave empty handed after Basilio Rieno Socoliche’s winner, with full-time frustrations leading to Sonnie Davis being dismissed after the final whistle.
Saints ventured forward in the early stages, but to no avail. Palace then took the lead with their first attack when striker Junior Dixon calmly dispatched a penalty eight minutes in.
The Hampshire outfit were back on level terms just four minutes later though.
Davis’ long-range free-kick proved difficult for Palace goalkeeper Jackson Izquierdo to handle and Brandon Charles was on hand to head home the loose ball from the parry out.
Having then gained some momentum from their equaliser, Saints took the lead. The ball was played back to the unnamed trialist and his superb effort from range found the net via the post.
The scoring in a lively first-half was not finished there though. Palace were soon back level when Socoliche moved into the box on the right and found the top corner with a rising shot across goal.
The quick reply from the hosts did not stop Saints from looking forward positively though. Will Merry saw two good opportunities well blocked by Palace defenders and goalkeeper Izquierdo, whilst the trialist drove a fierce effort wide and into the side-netting.
The home side were dealt a blow shortly before the half-time interval when Hindolo Mustapha was sent off for dissent.
A bright start to the second period saw Saints searching for the lead again. A strong run from the trialist ended with his low shot being diverted away from goal by the fingertips of Palace’s Izquierdo, and Merry then saw his resulting rebound blocked close to goal.
After a period of little action in the game though, Palace hit Saints on the break. A low cross from left was finished emphatically into the roof of the net by winger Socoliche, who had been the hosts’ main attacking outlet throughout.
Despite late pressure from Mikey Harris's side as they tried to find the elusive equaliser, Palace held on to their win with a structured defence.
With strong emotions on show throughout, defender Davis was sent off after the final whistle to round off a frustrating day in the capital.