Saints Under-18s came from a goal behind to beat Aston Villa and make it five unbeaten in the Barclays U18 Premier League on Saturday morning.
Goals from Ollie Cook and Marcus Barnes secured the win after Callum O’Hare put the hosts ahead halfway through the first half.
Olufela Olomola made his first start of the season due to a long-term injury and Anthony Limbrick welcomed the return of Josh Sims, who started on the left of a three-man attack due to their being no under-21 action this weekend.
Saints started the brighter side and it was Sims who first tested Charlie Bannister in the Villa goal, but he hit his effort straight into the stopper’s hands.
Barnes was denied from six yards out after connecting with Sims’ low cross – an effort the in-form striker would have expected to do better with.
Aston Villa went ahead midway through the first half when Harry McKirdy dodged the challenges of Cook and Kyle Clinton before squaring for O’Hare to tap home from point-blank range.
Saints dominated the second half but almost fell further behind when Rushian Hepburn-Murphy had a double chance. However, on both occasions Cook stood firm to deny the striker with two goalline clearances.
After heroic defending at one end, Cook went straight up the other and made his mark by putting Saints level 20 minutes from time. Armani Little’s initial corner was blocked at the front post but the rebound was floated straight back in and Cook was there to head home.
Saints’ winner came from the penalty spot with just two minutes remaining. Armani Little found Sims with a quick free-kick and released him into the right side of the box, but the left hand of Ben Swift stopped the ball when Sims crossed.
Barnes then stepped up and slammed the ball to the goalkeeper’s left hand side to give Saints the lead and net his tenth league goal of the season.
There were further chances to extend the lead in the final minutes as Little, Barnes and Dan Demkiv all came close.
Saints have now completed one round of fixtures and take a two-week break before restarting their season against Chelsea in three weeks time.
Southampton Under-18s: Harry Isted, Niall Mason (Colm Deasy), Ollie Cook, Kyle Clinton, Ben Cull, Joe Lea, Armani Little, Olufela Olomola (Dan Demkiv), Josh Sims, Harley Willard (Chris Regis), Marcus Barnes. Substitutes not used: Jake Hallett, Stuart Wilkin
Goals: Cook (70), Barnes (penalty 88)