Southampton Under-18s ensured they kept top spot in the Under-18s Premier League with a battling 3-2 win over Fulham on Saturday.
Goals from Leon Pambou, Kami Doyle and Sonnie Davis in a blistering first-half display saw Saints comfortably ahead at half-time, but strong defensive resilience had to be shown late on to confirm another big win.
With the chance to cement their place as leaders for at least another weekend, Saints started in strong fashion and took advantage with their first attack.
With three minutes on the clock, Kami Doyle whipped in a corner from the left and Leon Pambou was credited with getting the decisive touch from within a group of players at the front post.
The visitors continued to press for more as the first-half went on. Jimmy Morgan and Dom Ballard both forced the opposing defence and goalkeeper into action, whilst Fulham’s Devan Tanton was a whisker away from bringing his side level on a rare break forward.
However, Saints made their superior opening 20 minutes count again when Kami Doyle and Cameron Bragg combined neatly on the edge of the area and created an opportunity for the former to net his side’s second of the game.
The pressing in attacking areas from Carl Martin’s side was causing the hosts problems constantly and, after Fulham had wasted a good chance to half the deficit, Saints made it 3-0.
Sonnie Davis found space down the right flank and advanced into the penalty area. The angle to goal looked tight, but his firm strike went in at the near post and found the roof of the net.
Shortly before half-time, Fulham did give themselves something to work with when Oliver Gofford turned home on the rebound after seeing a previous shot come back to him off the post.
A well contested opening to the second period saw Saints facing pressure. Multiple corners had to be seen off as the backline and goalkeeper Eddie Beach remained focused on the task at hand.
Perhaps the best chance for Fulham in their spell on top came for Delano McCoy-Splatt, but he could only drag his shot wide of the far post from a promising position.
The momentum for the home side eventually told as Oliver Sanderson headed home a deep cross from close-range, and a fantastic last-ditch challenge from Matt Carson prevented a leveller in stoppage-time.
Saints were able to control the final seconds of the contest in the Fulham half and claimed another precious three points to keep the pressure on their rivals at the top of the table.
They are in action again on Saturday 5th March when they host Norwich at Staplewood, with kick-off at 11am.