Southampton Under-18s fell to a 4-1 defeat at West Ham in the Under-18 Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
Saints started brightly and earned themselves the lead in the ninth minute through Will Merry, who proved to be a lively presence in attack throughout the match.
However, West Ham thought they had equalised when a swirling corner flew over the head of Saints goalkeeper Eric Hanbury and was turned in at the far post, but the goal was ruled out for an infringement.
Mikey Harris’s side then created the best opportunities in the remainder of the half. Tommy-Lee Higgs and strike partner Will Merry saw efforts deflected wide.
Shortly before half time, Saints went close again to doubling their lead. A neat corner routine saw Sonnie Davis and Higgs combine on the left, and the former’s resulting cross was headed narrowly wide by Alex Iwumene.
Good blocks from the Saints defence after that saw them keep their slender lead at the break.
West Ham then started the second period brightly. Midfielders Daniel Rigge and Lewis Orford went close, with Orford’s stinging drive forcing Hanbury to turn the ball wide to his right.
Saints soon regained their composure though, and saw an attack down the right flank result in Merry’s left-footed effort being comfortably held by Mason Terry in the West Ham goal.
The game seemed to be flowing one way and then the next. West Ham’s next meaningful attack saw winger Callum Marshall cut in from the right and unleash a shot with his left foot, with Hanbury palming away from danger.
However, the Saints shot-stopper was powerless to stop the hosts equalising soon after when Orford’s corner drifted straight in via the far post in the 69th minute.
Despite playing some of the best football of the afternoon, Saints then fell behind in unfortunate circumstances
A low Oliver Scarles cross from the left was dangerous and substitute Nathaniel Boot saw his attempted clearance spin off his boot and into the net at the near post.
The visitors struggled to get into the rest of the game and West Ham, full of confidence now in attack, put together a superb move on the edge of the box to allow Marshall to make it 3-1 with 84 minutes on the clock.
There was still time for the home side to add a fourth late on when Gideon Kodua snuck in to squeeze a shot in at the near post after an under-hit backpass.
Saints are in action again on Saturday 27th August when they host Chelsea at Staplewood in the Under-18 Premier League.