Southampton Under-18s produced an excellent second-half display to claim a 5-1 win over Reading in the Under-18s Premier League on Saturday.
Early goals from Jeremiah Okine-Peters and Jimmy Morgan saw the two sides level at half-time. However, Saints took control after the break and produced a brace for Diamond Edwards and further strikes for Luke Pearce and Sonnie Davis to confirm a comprehensive scoreline.
Starting the morning one point ahead of West Ham at the top of the table, Carl Martin’s side knew that they could take another step towards the title with a win.
Saints started the game in confident fashion and applied some pressure early on. A long-range effort from Matt Carson was blocked well before Jimmy Morgan dragged a volley wide to end the next attack.
However, it was Reading who took the lead against the run of play in the 11th minute. Jeremiah Okine-Peters was played in down the right flank and managed to squeeze a low shot past Eddie Beach at the near post.
Having regained their focus after the setback, Saints soon hit back though. An excellent pass over the top of the Reading defence put Jimmy Morgan through on goal and the striker produced the perfect lobbed finish to beat advancing goalkeeper Tom Norcott.
Further chances came and went for both sides before half-time, with a typically mazy run and shot from Diamond Edwards almost giving Saints the advantage.
Overall, it was an even first period with neither side managing to take full control, but this meant that a crucial three points were still up for grabs for Saints if they could click fully into gear after the break.
They got the perfect start to the second-half too. A move down the right in the 47th minute saw Sonnie Davis combine with substitute Luke Pearce, and the lather’s pass gave Diamond Edwards a chance to drive a firm shot in at the near post and high into the net.
Saints pushed for a third and Luke Pearce almost poked home on the stretch having received a pass from Dom Ballard in the area, but the ball rolled agonisingly wide of the far post and out of the reach of his teammates.
It was not long before the visitors made it 3-1 though. Striker Pearce showed good determination to force his way into the penalty area and Diamond Edwards was again on hand to provide the finishing touch from the cutback to the six-yard line.
Having had a strong impact off the bench, Luke Pearce got himself on the scoresheet when he cut across the edge of the area and calmly rolled home his side’s fourth.
To compound a miserable opening to the second-half for Reading, their captain Zion Nditi was shown a straight red card on 71 minutes having brought down Dom Ballard and denied a clear goal scoring opportunity in the process.
There was still time for Saints to grab a fifth as Sonnie Davis joined another attack, as he had done throughout, and fired home from inside the area.
Saints can confirm themselves as league champions with a win when they take on Reading again on Wednesday, with kick-off at 11am at Staplewood.