A Luke Pearce brace secured a vital point for Southampton’s youngsters at Snows Stadium, during a 2-2 draw with Arsenal.
A high-intensity start to proceedings at Snows Stadium, which saw visitors Arsenal charge forward early to kick start a lively opening 45.
With Arsenal pushing forward from the offset, an important early block from Saints’ Matthew Carson denied the visitors an early advantage.
It wasn’t long before Saints had their own attack on goal, as Joshua Squires found captain Lewis Payne pressing forward.
Shortly after, Saints were awarded a penalty after Luke Pearce was taken down in the area. Cool, calm and collected from Pearce who found the back of the net from the spot in the eighth minute.
The goal sparked the Saints youngsters into life, enjoying a healthy amount of possession as well as looking increasingly dangerous on the attack.
A slight pause to proceedings as Ryan Finnigan was brought down in the twelfth minute, but after treatment from staff he was able to continue the fixture.
Arsenal soon picked up the pace after Saints took the lead. Shots on goal were few and far between until Jack Francis found Khayon Edwards who targetted the top left hand corner of the net to draw Arsenal level in the twenty-seventh minute.
At the other end, Fedel Ross-Lang found himself in on goal for Saints but couldn’t quite control the shot as it bounced behind the right hand post for a goal kick.
Pearce doubled his and Southampton’s goal tally in the fourty-second minute, netting a beautiful goal from outside the box into the top left hand corner.
The game showed no signs of slowing down before the break, as the visitors retaliated immediately.
Carilan Cirjan came close, while Saints goalkeeper Oliver Wright made an important clearance.
The breakthrough came in additional time of the first half, where Omari Hutchinson converted Brook Norton-Cuffy’s cross to draw Arsenal level.
On to the second half now, where Riley Wright came on in place of Kami Doyle.
Arsenal started the stronger side after the break, looking much more energised than the Saints youngsters in the first 10 minutes.
Joel Ideho released a nice shot on target for the visitors but Oliver Wright was there once again to clear the threat.
Wright made another important save just moments later as he was left to defend a dangerous Arsenal free-kick.
As Arsenal kept pressing it was vital for the boys in red to battle hard, with Matthew Carson making an excellent challenge on Khayon Edwards who was charging down the left flank.
With half an hour to go, Saints started to regain confidence and established themselves in the match again.
Some nice control of the ball on display from Louis Carey’s men, with some beautiful passages of play in the centre of the field.
Substitute Riley Wright had his fair amount of opportunities on goal, with his shot around the 70 minute mark finding the hands of Arsenal goalkeeper Ovie Ejeheri.
Arsenal won a free-kick in a dangerous position in the 75th minute, but Oliver Wright was there again to make a crucial clearance on the line.
With the clock running down both sides were fighting for the winning goal, Lewis Payne came in with another important challenge to halt Arsenal’s progress.
Despite some strong passages of play from both sides, there was nothing to separate them as the final whistle was blown.
Saints Under-18s are back in action on Saturday morning when they take on Tottenham Hotspur at Staplewood Campus.