Southampton Under-18s fell to a 2-0 defeat against Norwich City in the Under-18s Premier League on Saturday.
Saints created some good chances and hit the woodwork twice but were undone by strikes from Norwich’s Dubem Eze and Kenneth Aboh either side of half-time.
In frosty conditions, Saints started brightly. Dom Ballard - fresh from his hat-trick in the FA Youth Cup win over Coventry last weekend - almost put the hosts ahead when his left-footed strike was deflected onto the post.
Norwich also hit the upright in the opening 15 minutes when Aboh clipped the ball goalwards after receiving possession just outside the area, but his effort didn’t have quite enough curl on it to find the net past Adli Mohamed, who had advanced out from his goal.
The visitors were looking to threaten on the counter. One such venture forward produced a set-piece opportunity for Eze, but his firm strike only found the side-netting on the wrong side of the post.
Saints enjoyed a promising spell of possession just before the half-time interval and, after Tyler Dibling’s shot from range was kept out, they were again unfortunate to be denied by the woodwork.
Will Merry was played into a good position on the left and looked to have placed the ball perfectly into the far corner after choosing to shoot, but he saw the ball deflect off the crossbar and away from danger.
Despite having most of the positive play in the first period, Saints went into the break 1-0 down. A clearance from Mohamed was intercepted by Eze, and the Norwich man seized on the chance quickly to drill into an empty net.
Shortly into the second-half, the away side doubled their lead when a lofted ball over the Saints backline found Aboh with space to run into and his powerful finish saw him finish confidently.
As the hosts looked to ride out a tough spell, Norwich went close to adding a third. Opening scorer Eze was denied by an excellent Mohamed save with his feet, and then midfielder Toby Chilvers rattled the post with a snapped effort when meeting a cross on the volley.
Saints were then thankful again to their goalkeeper when he produced another big save on the hour mark to prevent Lloyd Ofori-Manteaw.
In a bid to salvage something, Saints pieced together a nice move of their own. A break down the left flank resulted in a low pullback from Josh Lett towards Ballard, but the striker didn’t connect cleanly with his shot and the ball flew harmlessly over.
It proved to be a frustrating game for the home side, and further chances came and went as the game moved to its conclusion.
Sam Amo-Amoyaw saw a shot blocked when a loose ball fell to him nicely in the area, and then Ballard struck a shot straight at Norwich goalkeeper Leon Giller to end the next attack. Late Saints pressure also saw Cameron Bragg and Amo-Ameyaw force saves.
As their six-game unbeaten run came to an end, Saints next have the chance to bounce back on Saturday 17th December when they travel to Tottenham Hotspur in the Under-18s Premier League, with kick-off at 11:30am.