Southampton Under-18s returned to the top of the Under-18s Premier League with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Chelsea on Wednesday afternoon.
A brace from Luke Pearce and a first-half penalty from Dom Ballard proved enough for Saints to take another huge three points and climb back to the summit of the table.
Eddie Beach was forced into the first save of the afternoon when he palmed away Malik Mothersille’s drive at the near post after tricky footwork on the left had worked space for the Chelsea winger.
Saints gradually gained some possession of the ball though. Shots from Ballard, Pearce and Kami Doyle produced the first saves of the contest from home goalkeeper Prince Adegoke, but Carl Martin’s side soon raced into a two goal lead.
First, Luke Pearce made the most of a superb pass over the home defence from Diamond Edwards to poke under the advancing Adegoke from close range and earn a 16th minute lead.
Just three minutes later, good pressure in the Chelsea half then saw midfielder Ryan Finnigan advance with the attack and win a penalty, which was calmly dispatched by Dom Ballard.
The partnership of Ballard and Pearce upfront caused some real problems for Chelsea in the early stages and the latter went close to stretching his side’s lead on two occasions – first with a deflected effort that spun just wide and then with a strike that flew narrowly past the far post.
Further chances were created by Saints towards the end of the first period, and Eddie Beach remained alert at the other end to deny Tudor Mendel-Idowu’s header from a corner from halving the lead.
Looking for an immediate response in the second-half, Chelsea wasted two presentable opportunities early on. Malik Mothersille hit the bar after meeting a ball across the six-yard line and then substitute Ato Ampah fired wide having raced onto a pass on the right.
Saints controlled a competitive spell of play from that point before deservedly claiming their third goal with 72 minutes on the clock.
The tireless Pearce created and scored it himself – charging down a pass out of defence from Chelsea, controlling the bouncing ball well and then dispatching with a flick of his right boot once close to goal.
From that point on, Saints saw out the game confidently to confirm another win from a strong and composed performance.
The Under-18s are in action again on Saturday 23rd April when they travel to take on Leicester City away from home, with kick-off at 1pm.