Carel Kayembe’s second-half strike gave Southampton Under-18s their third win on the trot in all competitions as they beat Arsenal 1-0 at Staplewood.
The Congolese forward, restored to the starting line-up against the Gunners, pounced after 62 minutes to help banish the pain of missing out on the FA Youth Cup win over Everton on Wednesday night.
In a bustling opening, Southampton went close to a deadlock-breaker inside the opening 10 minutes when Callum Slattery narrowly failed to connect with Kayembe’s cross from the right.
The youngster, however, did connect with goalkeeper Hugo Keto and required treatement on the pitch but, thankfully for Anthony Limbrick’s side, the England Under-16 international was able to continue.
Arsenal’s speed on the flanks proved a constant threat, and Harry Donovan was first to have a go, pulling his shot wide midway through the half after Marcus Agyei Tabi had beaten captain Niall Mason on the left.
In truth, it was a uneventful first 45, with Saints quick to press their 10th-placed opponents and restricting them to the odd foray down the flanks.
Limbrick had rung the changes for the Barclays Under-18 Premier League clash, making seven alterations to his side after the midweek win on Merseyside.
One of those changes, keeper Jake Hallett, miscued a clearance with the half drawing to a close, presenting an opportunity to Savvas Mourgos. The midfielder’s flick found Aaron Eyoma, who opted to shoot rather than square it, but sent his shot into the side netting.
The game followed a similar path after the restart. Despite plenty of hard graft, especially in the middle third, neither side appeared able to produce that moment of quality. Arsenal’s number 10 Donovan – their lockpicker-in-chief – was afforded little time on the ball by Ben Rowthorn.
That all changed just after the hour mark, though, as Kayembe – left out of the squad for Wednesday’s memorable victory at Goodison Park – made his mark on his return, converting substitute Dan Demkiv’s cross before wheeling away to celebrate.
Frans Da Kat’s side did have some chances towards the end, with Josh Dasilva dragging a low strike wide of the upright and Hallett being forced into a terrific reflex save from close range, but thanks to another resolute defensive display, Saints picked up the points.
Southampton: Jake Hallett, Niall Mason ©, Josh Debayo, Ben Rowthorn (Ollie Cook 64), Kyle Clinton, Oskar Cvjeticanin, Carel Kayembe, Chris Regis, Olufela Olomola (Dan Demkiv 60), Calum Slattery (Richard Bakary 82), Harley Willard.
Unused substitutes: Harry Isted.
Booked: Carel Kayembe (90)
Scorer: Carel Kayembe (62)
Arsenal: Hugo Keto, Jon Centeno, Llias Chatzitheodoridis, Ben Sheaf ©, Elliot Wright (Kris Da Graca 72) , Marc Bola, Aaron Eyoma, Savvas Mourgos (Nathan Tella 72), Josh Dasilva, Harry Donovan, Marcus Agyei Tabi.
Unused substitutes: Ryan Huddart, Renny Smith.