The Under-21s step up their pre-season preparations with a return to familiar ground this evening for a 7.30pm kick-off against Eastleigh at the Silverlake Stadium.
Last season, the Saints Development Squad used the Spitfires' facilities as their base for home matches in the Elite Group of the Barclays U21 Premier League, where they picked up some notable wins against Arsenal, Newcastle and West Bromwich Albion as they went close to the end of season play-offs positions.
This year, they prepare for a new national division in which they are one of 22 teams contesting a top-four spot to make it into a knockout phase which will decide the overall winner.
The new campaign begins with a trip to Liverpool on Monday 12th August, and the first home fixture arrives shortly afterwards on Friday 16th August when Chelsea visit St Mary’s on the eve of the new First Team season.
Since reporting back with a 4-1 win over Sholing earlier this month, it has been a solid start to the pre-season schedule for the Under-21s. They remain unbeaten after coming through a week-long stint in the north east of England, where they earned two wins and a draw without conceding a goal in that time, to Middlesbrough, Sunderland, and Newcastle.
A 17-man squad was rotated to useful effect during that time, with the minutes shared around in a progressive build-up to the new campaign.
The young trio of Ryan Seager, Jason McCarthy and Jake Flannigan have all convincingly made the step up from playing Under-18s football last season, whilst there are number of other regular faces who are likely to feature again this evening.
Winger Omar Rowe, who has scored four times already in pre-season, is likely to be involved alongside full backs Matt Young and Matt Targett, as well as the likes of Harrison Reed, Corby Moore, Dominic Gape and Jake Sinclair.
Amongst those yet to taste the action are Sam McQueen and Andy Robinson, with the duo working hard to be fit in time for the start of the season. Goalkeeper Cody Cropper, who was given an extended break over the summer after competing at the Under-20s World Cup, suffered a finger injury on his return against Sunderland, and subsequently missed last weekend’s win at Newcastle.
Kick-off is at 7.30pm with ticket prices set as follows: