Southampton's youngsters kept up their strong form in the Under-18 Premier League with a convincing 5-0 win over Norwich City on Saturday.
Three first-half goals from Matt Carson, Dom Ballard and Rylee Wright put Carl Martin’s side in control, and further efforts from Jem Hewlett and Jimmy Morgan in the second period rounded off the scoring.
Saints hit their stride early on and took the lead in the fourth minute. A weighted ball over the Norwich defence was not dealt with and home full-back Carson took full advantage with a superb, lobbed finish from just inside the box.
It was almost 2-0 shortly afterwards when Wright and Ballard combined to see the latter turn a shot goalwards, but visiting goalkeeper Reece Trueman did just enough to push the rolling ball wide of his far post.
The lead was doubled as Saints created their next big opening with 16 minutes played. Kami Doyle was played into a crossing position on the right and hooked the ball perfectly towards Ballard at the back post, and the striker’s header across goal nestled in the far corner of the net.
Martin’s determined side were clearly in a confident mood. Wright added another goal to the scoreline in the first-half when he seized on a loose ball in the area following a free-kick and despatched left-footed.
Having been put up against it by the fast start from the hosts, Norwich almost gave themselves a lifeline before half-time when a tempting ball into the area from Oscar Thorn was not finished off by the waiting Ken Aboh and Alex Matos.
Saints would end the half on top, though, and Doyle almost found a fourth for his side when he saw his shot hit the crossbar after being blocked bravely by a Norwich body.
Into the second period, Saints created two opportunities in quick succession, as Jimmy Morgan snapped a shot wide and then Doyle struck a fierce effort to produce an excellent save from visiting goalkeeper Trueman in the next attack.
Eddie Beach was forced into good work of his own soon after, when a fast break from Norwich saw a stinging drive from Aboh that needed to be turned away, but Saints soon made their overall control of the game pay by making it 4-0.
A free-kick was won out on the left flank and Doyle’s teasing ball towards the back post area was planted into the bottom corner by the head of captain Hewlett.
The game ended in competitive fashion, with both sides playing their part and battling for late control of the contest, and Saints were made to fight hard to maintain their margin of victory.
A superbly-worked goal, created by Doyle’s through ball and finished by Morgan’s strike across goal, rounded off a very professional win from the home side, as they kept up their charge at the top of the table.
Saints are in action again in the Under-18 Premier League on Saturday 12th March, when they travel away to take on Birmingham City, with kick-off at 11:30am GMT.