Southampton Under-18s fell to a 2-0 defeat to Leicester City in the Under-18s Premier League at on Saturday.
A tight first-half saw the two teams level at half-time, but two superb pieces of play from Leicester winger Amani Richards saw the Foxes claim a victory – scoring the opener himself before assisting Joshua King’s second.
A competitive opening at Staplewood saw both sets of players tussling for control of the early play. However, the first 20 minutes saw both teams limited to speculative efforts from long range.
The first opening for Saints came when a clever ball was lofted over the Leicester backline by Ryan Chavez-Munoz to find the run of Tommy-Lee Higgs, but the striker’s effort on goal on the stretch went over the bar.
A corner situation then produced another chance. A set-piece routine saw Joe Andrews play to Josh Squires on the edge of the box and his low ball across the area found Saints captain Jem Hewlett, who saw his shot well blocked by a Leicester body.
Leicester responded at the other end as some dangerous crosses came into the Saints penalty area.
Jayden Joseph’s whipped ball in from the right found King and his header deflected off Will Armitage and into the arms of Josh Jeffries, as the home goalkeeper gathered down low.
Patient build-up towards the end of the first-half saw another chance for Higgs; Sonnie Davis found Nick Oyekunle near the penalty spot and his chest down was slashed over by Saints' striker on the half-volley.
Early in the second-half, Saints created the best opportunity of the game up to that point.
Substitute Jay Robinson clipped a cross to the back post and Andrews’ downward header seemed destined for the bottom corner, but Leicester goalkeeper Dillon Addai got down well to save.
However, it was Leicester who grabbed two quick goals to turn the game in their favour.
The opener came on 54 minutes when Richards showed great pace and trickery to break into the Saints box on the right and score with a low striker across goal.
More excellent play from Richards then created the visitors’ second with 66 minutes played.
He spun past a challenge and squared for King, whose clipped finish found the net despite the best attempts of Hewlett on the line.
With Saints struggling to build through a congested centre of the pitch, Leicester were able to see out their win to ensure that they took three points back to the Midlands.
Saints are in action again on Saturday 18th March when they travel to face Chelsea away from home in the Under-18s Premier League, with kick-off at 11am.