A dramatic second-half comeback from Southampton Under-18s saw them retain their unbeaten record in 2021/22 with a 3-3 draw against Arsenal.

After an energetic opening to proceedings from both sides, Saints had the first chance of the contest when a measured cross to the back post from Luke Pearce saw Dom Ballard head wide when stretching to make contact.

Arsenal attempted to respond when Khayon Edwards also found space from a deep cross but he could not direct his attempt on target either.

The visitors then went close again with around 12 minutes played. A flowing attack down the left saw the ball pulled back to the influential Marcelo Flores but his shot was well palmed away by Saints goalkeeper Eddie Beach at his near post.

Saints then responded with their best chance of the opening stages, though. Jimmy Jay Morgan was played through on goal by Fedel Ross-Lang but saw his low strike turned away from danger by visiting shot-stopper Hubert Graczyk after shrugging off a challenge from a defender.

The hosts’ pressure was troubling Arsenal though and Saints duly took the lead after winning the ball back in a promising position.

A poor pass from keeper Graczyk on 28 minutes was intercepted by Saints striker Morgan just over the halfway line and he had the simple task of curling into a mostly unguarded net as the intense pressure paid off.

Arsenal responded just five minutes later though when the lively Amario Cozier-Duberry drilled a powerful effort in at the near post and then took the lead through Edwards after a neat build-up towards the box.

Given the deficit, Saints would have been looking for a quick start to the second-half but a fast breakaway from Arsenal saw them make it 3-1 shortly after play had restarted as striker Edwards provided the finishing touch once again.

It was important that the hosts got the next goal and they duly did when a measured ball over the top of the opposing defence saw Pearce with space and time to control and finish calmly.

A moment of controversy then came with around 20 minutes remaining as visiting goalkeeper Graczyk appeared to handle well outside his area and stop a promising Saints attack, but he was only shown a yellow card for the offence and the resulting free-kick came to nothing.

With ten minutes left, Saints upped the intensity once again to try and get their equaliser. Tommy Dobson-Ventura headed just wide whilst Amani Richards fired over from a promising position for Arsenal.

After strong and sustained pressure right at the end though, Saints duly got their reward when a driving run into the penalty area from Morgan saw him upended to win a penalty and this left Tommy-Lee Higgs to dispatch confidently from 12 yards after coming on as a late substitute.

Saints are in action again next Saturday when they travel away to face Nottingham Forest in the Under-18s Premier League Cup, with kick-off at 11am.