Development Coach Martin Hunter was pleased with how his men came through their encounter with league opposition
After managing a Saints XI to a 2-1 win over Exeter City, Development Coach Martin Hunter was pleased with how his men came through their encounter with league opposition.
Goals from Lloyd Isgrove and Lee Barnard put Hunter's side on their way, though Guillem Bauza did pulled an 86th-minute goal back for the Grecians.
And the Coach was pleased with the test provided his men by the League 2 outfit, who less than 18 months ago were facing Saints' First Team in a league fixture at St James Park.
Hunter told Saints Player: "The pitch here is magnificent, and Exeter are the type of team you'd like to play in pre-season because they test you tactically and technically.
"For the purists, it was a good game of football.
"Lloyd's goal came from the sort of stuff we'll do on the training ground - we do like the wide striker to get inside the far post, and that's what he did by getting inside the full-back and producing a good header to finish.
"The second goal came as a result of good work from Dicko (Ryan Dickson) on the left with another quality cross that's gone into the box. There were a couple of blocks, but Barney was in there to finish.
"So it was [pleasing], apart from the last four minutes. We played well, particularly in the second half, but have to develop some game management and an understanding of how to win - and win 2-0.
"However, in the fourth week of pre-season there are a lot of plusses for everybody, whether they are senior professionals or younger professionals.
"This is all part of what we need in pre-season."
Hunter's starting line-up was made up by a mixture of players who featured in the Under 21s' wins over Sholing and Winchester City plus some members of the First Team squad fresh from last week's training camp in Évian-les-Bains.
Former Grecian Dan Seaborne played alongside Jack Stephens at centre-half, while goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga - signed from Gillingham last week - got his first start in a Saints shirt.
The Argentinian was replaced by Chris Johns with a quarter-hour remaining, leaving Hunter pleased with the stopper's clean sheet.
"Paulo is obviously very athletic and his distribution of the ball was excellent, whether it was short or long," said the Under 21 Manager.
"He was very composed during the 70 minutes he played."
Next up for Hunter's Under 21 side is a long trip north to face a fellow Barclays Premier League Development Squad in the shape of Sunderland.
And the Coach says he will be treating the match in as professional a manner as possible to replicate the kind of match-day experience his players will be involved in during the coming season.
"We'll treat the boys in a similar way to senior players, so we'll travel up there then stay overnight and play the game," he said.
"It's a Premier League Under-21 game, and we're very much looking to pit at wits at that level this season."
Meanwhile opening goalscorer Isgrove, who only replaced Jake Sinclair minutes before finding the net, is hoping to build on his first appearance since recovering from a troublesome knee injury.
"It's my first game back from injury having been out for four-or-five weeks now, so just to get some time under my belt was good for me," said the 19-year-old.
"With my knee injury, it has been a bit frustrating to be watching because you just want to be out there with the lads so you feel a bit left out.
"Just to get out there was really good for me, and to score was really nice too - and it was a good win for the lads as well.
"I've just got to push on now and look up," he continued. "I'll keep my head down, keep working hard, keep doing it in training and keep doing it in matches.
"I want to try and push into the First Team with us being in the Premier League now, but I've just got back from injury so I need to get my match fitness back.
"Hopefully I can push on from there."