Southampton Under-18s completed a remarkable comeback to beat Crystal Palace 3-2 in the Under-18s Premier League on Saturday and gained points on league leaders West Ham in the process.
Palace went 2-0 ahead through strikes from Ademola Ola-Adebomi and Victor Akinwale, but a ferocious fightback from the hosts at Staplewood saw three goals of their own arrive courtesy of Sonnie Davis, Dom Ballard and Fedel Ross-Lang.
There was just one point separating the two sides at kick-off and the competitive start to the contest proved that both groups of players were looking for an important win.
Saints striker Luke Pearce had the first effort on target early on when he was slid through by fellow forward Dom Ballard but saw his shot palmed wide at the near post by Palace goalkeeper Owen Goodman.
The hosts were creating the best openings of the first-half and Kami Doyle almost broke the deadlock when he drove into a promising area from near the halfway line, but his eventual strike at goal rose well over the crossbar.
Palace responded well though and took the lead in the 29th minute.
Shortly after centre-back Joe Sheridan had headed over from a corner, Ademola Ola-Adebomi caught Saints on the break and finished coolly when one-on-one with Eddie Beach in the home goal.
Another presentable opportunity was the wasted as the visitors looked to double their lead just before half-time. Matthew Vigor could only fire over when a good pullback towards the edge of the area gave him space.
After the break, Saints looked determined to get back on level terms early. Attacks on both flanks produced crossing chances for Matt Carson and Sonnie Davis in quick succession, and only good interventions from the Palace defence and goalkeeper stopped an equaliser arriving.
Having gone close at one end though, Saints were soon 2-0 down as striker Victor Akinwale dispatched a penalty confidently and earned what seemed a commanding lead at that stage.
However, Saints full-back Sonnie Davis gave his side a lifeline on 63 minutes when he cut inside from the right and curled a superb left-footed effort inside the far post.
This goal sparked some belief in the hosts and they claimed their equaliser just seven minutes later.
Dom Ballard – fresh from signing his first professional contract on Wednesday – took up his position intelligently and stooped to head in a perfectly weighted cross from substitute Fedel Ross-Lang on the left.
A remarkable turnaround was almost complete shortly after too when Kami Doyle went within inches of scoring with an expertly struck free-kick that cannoned off the join of post and crossbar.
A frantic ending to the game saw Palace hit the woodwork too but it was Saints who snatched the three points in dramatic fashion in stoppage-time.
Rylee Wright broke down the right and, with Palace goalkeeper Owen Goodman stranded off his line, found Fedel Ross-Lang well in the centre of the goal for a simple finish into an unguarded net.
Saints move to within two points of league leaders West Ham whilst also having two games in hand on their rivals. They are in action again on Wednesday 13th April when they travel to take on Chelsea away from home, with kick-off at 12pm.