Anthony Limbrick hailed his new-look side after they beat Arsenal 1-0 to rack up their third successive victory in all competitions.
Following last weekend’s 2-0 win over West Ham and the 5-4 penalty shoot-out triumph at Everton in the FA Youth Cup on Wednesday night, Limbrick made seven changes to his starting line-up for the Barclays Under-18 Premier League visit of the Gunners.
The Saints Under-18 coach felt the new additions to his outfit – including Under-16 midfielder Ben Rowthorn – acquitted themselves well against the Gunners, who were beaten by Carel Kayembe’s 62nd-minute goal.
“We had to make a lot of changes, so a lot of players had to rest. Some are involved in the Monday game with the Under-21s,” he explained.
“With lots of changes, the boys who came in did really well. Some hadn’t had a lot of game time.
“It was great to see Carel Kayembe score his first goal of the season. I thought he worked ever so well.
“We had a young player, Ben Rowthorn, come in and do really well in the centre of midfield and it was good to see those players get their opportunity and take them.
“It was a tight game first half, with only a couple of chances either side, but then in the second half I thought we could have got a couple more goals. We defended well – Jake Hallett pulled off a great save at the end – and we’re getting into the habit of keeping a clean sheet.
“We said to the players at half time that if we do keep a clean sheet, we’ll get an opportunity to score with the quality we have and we did that, so it was nice to see.”
Some of the other youngsters to be handed a chance to impress were defender Oskar Cvjeticanin, midfielder Chris Regis and forward Olufela Olomola.
Having shuffled his pack, Limbrick was happy that the new faces in his squad grabbed their opportunities and kept a clean sheet at Staplewood.
And he also expressed his satisfaction at matchwinner Kayembe’s contribution – but also believed his youngsters could have netted again and put the game to bed late on.
“I think Oskar, the centre-back, hadn’t started a game yet this season, it was one of Carel’s first starts for a while and Ben Rowthorn came into the middle, so we had a very young team today but it was a good opportunity for them,” he said.
“In periods, we’d like to play a bit more football if we could, play out from the back and through the thirds, but Arsenal are a good side and they looked to press us high up the pitch and that caused us some problems as well.
“It was nice to make the changes and give the players an opportunity to perform.
“Fela came off for Dan Demkiv and we moved Carel up top as a nine, more so because I thought his work-rate could press and work the centre halves.
“We went up there and he ended up scoring, so that’s pleasing for him. He could have been a bit more clinical at the end and taken his chances – I think we coud have got two or three at the end – but that was good for him.”