Southampton Under-18s claimed a sixth straight win in all competitions and kept their place as one of the leaders in the U18s Premier League with a 2-0 win over Fulham on Saturday.
Heading into the game in second place, Saints boss Carl Martin called on a strong line-up and included players with plenty of B team experience in a bid to cement their status as one of the leading teams in the league.
After an even first five minutes, home winger Tyler Dibling had the first effort on goal when his positive drive in from the right ended with a strike that flew over the bar from just outside the box.
With both teams tussling for full control of the contest, a spell of pressure from Saints eventually got them the breakthrough with 26 minutes on the clock.
Kami Doyle almost put the hosts in front with a sharp volley from range but the next attack saw a swirling cross from deep on the right fly over Fulham goalkeeper Alexander Borto and rebound off the post to striker Dom Ballard, who had the simple task of turning home with the net unguarded.
Carl Martin’s side controlled the tempo of the first-half from that point and deservedly doubled their lead four minutes before half-time.
It was a nicely worked move too as Kami Doyle spread play out to Tyler Dibling on the right side of the area and his twisting run created space for a low cross along the six-yard line. Once again, Dom Ballard was on hand and positioned expertly to provide the finishing touch when it mattered.
It had been a first period where Saints were not troubled at the back but had managed to force two openings at the other end to put themselves fully in command.
Two chances to add to their advantage came and went in the opening stages of the second-half.
First, Kami Doyle saw his clean free-kick strike from a promising position bend just wide of the near post and then Dom Ballard made space for himself to get a shot away but fired high and wide as he looked for his hat-trick during another good attack.
With the game drawing to a conclusion, both sides went close to adding to the scoreline.
Home substitute Fedel Ross-Lang saw his fierce left-footed effort beaten away by visiting goalkeeper Borto, whilst Lemar Gordon could only find the side-netting with what was one of Fulham’s only openings.
Further Saints efforts from Lewis Payne and Tyler Dibling meant that they kept searching for more goals up until the final whistle but their win was seen out confidently in the latter stages.
Saints are back in action on Thursday when they play host to Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Youth Cup and the game will be played at St Mary’s Stadium.