Southampton Under-18s fell to a 3-0 defeat to Leicester City in the Under-18 Premier League on Saturday.
The game started in competitive fashion, but it was Saints who were having the best spells of possession in the opening ten minutes.
Carl Martin’s side were looking most likely to create early chances, but attempted passes through the Leicester defence from Ryan Chavez-Munoz and Josh Squires were cut-out as they forged their first attacks.
Saints goalkeeper Eddie Beach was forced to make the first saves of the contest, though, when Chris Popov cut in from the right and struck a firm shot straight at him, and he then went one better when he flew to his right and palmed away Will Alves’s effort that seemed destined for the top corner without his intervention.
However, Leicester were to be rewarded for their spell of pressure when Kian Pennant opened the scoring on 21 minutes.
The Foxes had responded well to Saints’ early control and midfielder Brandon Cover twice went close to doubling his side’s lead – his second shot flying wide by a matter of inches.
Saints regained some important possession before half-time and were close to levelling when captain Jem Hewlett turned a low header wide from a corner. Luke Pearce also saw his looping, deflected cross cleared off the line.
Unfortunately for the hosts, though, Leicester grabbed their second on the break, as Popov turned home a teasing cross from left-back Jamari Lindsay and then stretched their advantage to 3-0 shortly into the second-half as he again provided the finishing touch.
With a healthy deficit to overcome, Saints looked for a way back into the game quickly. One attack saw firmly struck efforts from Jimmy Jay Morgan and Cameron Bragg blocked well by Leicester bodies.
It was proving to be difficult to break down the visitors, though. The Foxes were looking composed in seeing out their win and almost added a fourth as a Popov shot clipped off the bar.
A strong Saints finish to the game ultimately proved goalless, but they went close to adding one of their own when Morgan took aim with a free-kick from around 30 yards out. He did not get quite enough dip to challenge Arlo Doherty, but did have the opposition goalkeeper worried momentarily with the flight of the ball.
Second-half substitute Joshua Lett also went close when he combined neatly with Fedel Ross-Lang on the left before sending a fizzing shot just wide of the far post once his run had reached the edge of the box.
Saints are back in action on 16th October when they host Leicester City again – this time in the Under-18 Premier League Cup.