Southampton Under-18s fell to a 5-2 defeat at the hands of Chelsea in the Under-18s Premier League on Saturday.
A tight first-half saw the hosts leading 2-1 at half time after Donnell McNeilly’s opener and Leo Castledine’s penalty either side of Josh Pitts’s header in reply for Saints.
However, a strong showing from the Blues in the second half saw them add three more to their tally courtesy of Michael Golding, McNeilly’s second and Louis Flower, with Pitts’s second of the afternoon little more than a consolation.
Saints had the first shot on goal with four minutes played when Joe Andrews struck a free-kick high over the crossbar from range.
After a spell where both sides tussled for control, Adli Mohamed was then forced into his first action of the game when he deflected Somto Boniface’s low shot away from goal with his left foot.
It was Chelsea who claimed the opener from a corner on 32 minutes when Ato Ampah’s near post delivery found striker McNeilly and he flashed his header into the net having found some good space away from Saints' defenders.
The visitors responded quickly and almost found an equaliser when some good build-up play gave Nick Oyekunle the chance to round goalkeeper Ted Curd, but the ball ran away from the striker and out of play.
After building some good pressure towards the end of the first-half, Saints did find their leveller and it was excellently worked.
Space was found by Alfie Prescott on the right and his subsequent cross from a deep position found the perfectly timed run of striker Pitts, who planted a header emphatically beyond Curd.
A lively ending to the first period produced more drama though as Chelsea were awarded a penalty. Goal scorer McNeilly was tripped by Tyler Edmondson in the box and home captain Castledine stepped up to fire his spot-kick high into the net.
A strong start to the second half from the hosts saw them continue their momentum from before half time.
They stretched their lead further on 52 minutes when possession found Golding on the edge of the Saints box and his clipped effort floated out of the reach of Mohamed and into the far corner.
It was then made 4-1 just after the hour mark as McNeilly netted his second of the game when he headed home a free-kick delivery with the help of a flick off the far post.
Saints still worked hard to try and find a way back into the contest but Chelsea also continued to create as the game opened up late on.
Two good saves from Mohamed stopped Ronnie Stutter and Ato Ampah adding to the scoreline as he and his defence showed some discipline despite being three goals behind.
This good work was then rewarded at the other end as Pitts found the net for the second time.
A driving run through midfield from Ethan Hartness and decisive passing saw play spread from left to right and Pitts produced a superb low finish after receiving the ball on the edge of the area.
Unfortunately for Saints, any hope of a late comeback was denied by Chelsea’s fifth goal, netted by Flower from close range as the game moved towards its conclusion.