Southampton Under-18s fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in the Under-18s Premier League on Saturday.
Saints played their part and fought hard in a fast-paced game but Damola Ajayi’s second-half strike meant that Spurs took three points away from Staplewood.
A young side was fielded at Staplewood Campus with 14-year-old Harrison Miles making his first appearance at Under-18s level in midfield whilst 15-year-old Korban McMullan was introduced as a second half substitute.
In addition, four Under-16s stars were amongst the squad with Tommy Dobson-Ventura continuing to start in defence as Barnaby Williams was handed a starting place in attack.
It was Spurs who worked the first opportunity for an early shot when Callum Olusesi cut in from a narrow angle in the area and fired the ball across goal and out of play.
Saints started to knock the ball around nicely in response, but the visitors then went closer still to finding the opener.
A low ball into an excellent area from winger Maxwell McKnight bounced on the six-yard line and clipped the post before being cleared by the Saints defence.
Further chances for Spurs came and went courtesy of Yusuf Akhamrich and Tyrese Hall, but then Saints went close themselves for the first time in the match.
A lofted pass over the Spurs defence set Will Merry free on the left and his cross towards the right side of the penalty area found his strike-partner Tommy-Lee Higgs; Higgs controlled and waited for an angle to open before seeing his low striker flash narrowly wide.
This moment seemed to help the hosts grow in confidence and their next attack forced Spurs goalkeeper Luca Gunter into a superb action.
Saints midfielder Ryan Chavez-Munoz found space outside the box to fire a low effort towards the bottom corner, but Gunter flew to his left and palmed wide.
The game was now very open and Josh Jeffries was also called upon before half-time.
A Spurs free kick forced Saints' shot-stopper to push the ball back out into the path of McKnight, but Jeffries held on to the firm rebound well.
Both sides continued to push for a goal before the break but it seemed fair that things were level based on the efforts of both groups of players in the first period.
Unfortunately for Saints, it was Spurs who gained the lead early in the second-half after a superb piece of improvisation from Ajayi.
The striker received a bouncing ball with his back to goal around 12 yards out and managed to hook his left-footed shot into the roof of the net, leaving Jeffries stranded in goal.
Although a tight and well-contested fixture was to be decided by Ajayi, Saints continued to fight until the end with the willing running of Chavez-Munoz and Will Merry causing most concern for the visitors.
Saints are back in action on Saturday 25th February when they travel to take on West Bromwich Albion in the Under-18s Premier League, with kick-off at 11am.