Southampton’s youngsters battled hard but suffered a heavy defeat to title contenders Fulham in the Under 18’s Premier League.
The scoring was opened after just two minutes, Idris Odutayo heading home from close range following Luke Harris’s attempt that rattled off the crossbar.
Fulham doubled their lead on sixteen minutes, Jay Stansfield darting down the right and crossing into Kieron Bowie, who made no mistake with his finish from a few yards out.
The third was added 11 minutes later, Stansfield pouncing on Southampton goalkeeper Ollie Wright while he struggled to control the ball, tackling him and tapping into an empty net.
The 61st and 62nd minutes saw the hosts grab two more goals in quick succession, the first a smart volley from Michael Olakigbe, the second a well struck shot from Stansfield for his brace.
Olakigbe popped up again for Fulham’s final goal, tapping into an open net on 82 minutes following a good save from Wright.
Southampton may feel unfortunate to have faced a Fulham team that are not only in-form, but clearly looked psyched up on the day, with the hosts showcasing an early dominance on proceedings.
The forceful South West London winds could’ve had a part to play in Fulham’s first goal, which came only a couple of minutes into the game after Olakigbe’s whipped corner was crashed against the bar off the head of Harris at the far post, before being nodded home on the rebound by captain Odutayo.
Clearly utilising their speed and talent in wide areas wherever possible, The Cottagers saw their tactic pay off once more on 16 minutes, as Stansfield darted down the right wing, firing a low cross into the feet of the arriving Bowie who calmy slotted home from close proximity.
It could have been easy for Southampton to drop their heads after the second, but captain Will Tizzard did well to keep the mentality stable, while Milan Diamond Edwards began to shine in midfield, his tricky and fast feet keeping Fulham on their toes.
However, Southampton’s growing presence made Fulham’s third goal an even tougher pill to swallow, with the ball being worked back to goalkeeper Wright who struggled in the unpredictable conditions to bring it under control and was caught by the onrushing Stansfield who tapped home to the despair of the Saints bench on 27 minutes.
Southampton did well from this point to limit the first half damage to three and emerged from halftime with a similar energy to that seen after Fulham’s second goal, showing more attacking threat and increased comfort on the ball despite constant pressure from the opposition.
However, Saints could do nothing about the whites fourth goal, Stansfield again breaking down the left in the 61st minute and floating his cross to the back post where it was guided home with sheer class on the volley by Olakigbe.
Obviously spurred on, the hosts quickly grabbed another just a minute later, this time Harris fed Stansfield who used his pace to break away from the Southampton defence and fire his shot low into the bottom left corner.
Despite Southampton’s best efforts to reply, The Cottagers added their sixth and final goal on 82 minutes, following a deflected cross that Wright did well to palm away but could only do so into the path of Olakigbe, who stroked into the gaping net for his brace and ensured Fulham went top of the table on the day.
Saints substitute Tyler Dibbling did create a good opportunity in the final stages of the game, breaking into the hosts penalty area before cutting back on his right foot, but his eventual shot was well stopped by Alexander Borto, who made himself big and smothered the attempt.
Despite being another tough encounter, Southampton will be hungry to get back to winning ways at home next Saturday against top-four chasing Aston Villa, scheduled for a 3pm kick off at Staplewood.