Saints Under-18s lost only their second game in eight as West Brom won 1-0 at the Staplewood Campus on Friday afternoon in the Barclays Under-18 Premier League.
Despite a dominant first half from Saints, they fell behind early after the break as Samir Nabi produced a neat bit of skill before smashing past Harry Isted to score the only goal of the game.
The introduction of top goalscorer Marcus Barnes off the bench was a welcome boost for Anthony Limbrick ahead of their FA Youth Cup tie on Tuesday night.
This was the final preparation for Limbrick’s side ahead of Tuesday night’s FA Youth Cup tie against West Ham United and they welcomed Armani Little back to the starting line-up in the only change from the 2-2 draw with Chelsea last week.
Barnes was back among the substitutes following injury along with defender Oskar Cvjeticanin, who was involved for the first time.
Fresh from his first goal of the campaign in the draw with Chelsea, Olufela Olomola had the first chance for Limbrick’s side. The striker met Niall Mason’s cross, but he was unable to get enough conviction in his header as it drifted wide.
Dan Demkiv then created an opportunity for himself, turning away from his man on the edge of the box well, but the winger’s effort was straight at West Brom goalkeeper Ethan Ross.
After a foul on Demkiv, Little produced an excellent inswinging free-kick that was met by Kyle Clinton, but the defender’s header went just over the bar.
Little’s set-piece delivery was causing problems for the visitors, and after a corner caused confusion in the penalty area the ball fell kindly for Ollie Cook, but he could only smash over Ross’ goal.
Against the run of play, West Brom almost took the lead just before the break as Wright raced clear, but Isted made a smart save at his near post to tip the ball behind.
Despite their domination in the first half, the hosts were under pressure early in second period, and West Brom took full advantage. Nabi beat his man with a clever nutmeg, before firing past Isted from close range.
As Saints pressed for an equaliser, West Brom almost added a second on the counter, but Wright was denied by a last-ditch tackle from Cook.
Barnes then made his return from injury as Limbrick introduced the striker and Alfie Jones in place of Olomola and Callum Slattery with 20 minutes to go.
Ten minutes later, Saints almost drew level, but Little’s low drive was deflected just wide of the post by a West Brom defender, before Barnes was unable to get enough power into a header from the resulting corner.
Limbrick’s side were unable to find an equaliser, despite late pressure, to condemn their to their first home defeat since September. They will now have the next few days to prepare for their FA Youth Cup third round tie with West Ham at St Mary’s on Tuesday night.
Southampton Under-18s: Harry Isted, Niall Mason, Ollie Cook, Kyle Clinton, Josh Debayo, Armani Little (c), Joe Lea, Callum Slattery (Alfie Jones 70), Josh Sims, Dan Demkiv (Harley Willard 45), Olufela Olomola (Marcus Barnes 70).
Unused substitutes: Jake Hallett (GK), Oskar Cvjeticanin.
West Brom Under-18s: Ethan Ross, Josh Ezewele (Jack Hallahan 65), George Cleet, Jack Fitzwater, Robbie McCourt (James Smith 76), Phillip Gannon, Samir Nabi, Tyler Roberts (Tahvon Campbell 81), Jonathon Leko, Joe Ward, Andre Wright.
Unused substitutes: George Cater, Matthew Hall (GK).
Goals: Nabi (55).