Southampton Under-18s fell to a heavy 7-1 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace in the Under-18s Premier League on Saturday.

A hat-trick from Zach Marsh helped the visitors on their way to three points at Staplewood, whilst a solitary goal from Tommy-Lee Higgs proved to be a highlight for Saints from an otherwise forgettable game.

It was Palace who worked the first opportunity for a shot on goal in the opening stages when Franko Umeh-Chibueze stung the palms of Adli Mohamed in the Saints goal.

After a halt in play that saw home defender Nathaniel Boot stretchered off, the visitors made their early pressure pay in the 13th minute when Hindolo Mustapha fired a left-footed shot low into the bottom corner from just outside the box.

Saints’ best chance of the first period came near the half hour mark when striker Will Merry advanced towards the Palace area and forced a good stop from Palace’s William Eastwood. The goalkeeper then gathered the ball at the second attempt to deny Ryan Chavez-Munoz a tap-in on the follow-up.

A good spell for the hosts was undone by a second Palace goal – neatly worked down the right wing and finished tidily by Franco Umeh-Chibueze as the ball was cut back to him in space.

Saints kept trying to play positively until the end of the first period though and managed to half the deficit when pressure was maintained on Palace in their own area and Tommy-Lee Higgs took full advantage to place a shot home as the ball eventually fell to him after several unsuccessful clearances.

With time added on for the injury stoppage, Saints very nearly equalised as they pushed their opponents back.

Will Merry worked a yard of space for himself just outside the box and drove a shot towards the top corner, only for William Eastwood to fly to his left and deny him with a spectacular save.

Into the second-half, Saints were dealt a blow when Zach Marsh made it 3-1 to Palace when he turned home Franco Umeh-Chibueze’s cutback to the front post at close-range.

Adli Mohamed was then called into action to stop the lead being stretched further as he palmed away efforts from Hindolo Mustapha and Vonnte Williams in quick succession to make a good double save.

It was not long before Palace did add another to the scoreline though when they caught Saints in possession close to their own goal in the 66th minute and Zach Marsh pounced to net his second of the game.

Marsh then managed to complete his hat-trick shortly after when he followed up a loose ball in the box after Adli Mohamed had produced another excellent save to turn onto the post.

The scoring was complete when the excellent David Obou turned home close to goal to make it 6-1 and then a seventh came courtesy of a breakaway goal from substitute Asher Agbinone on 87 minutes.

Saints are next in action on Thursday 6th April when when they travel away to face West Ham United in the FA Youth Cup semi-finals, with kick-off at 7pm.