Goals either side of half-time from Dom Gape and Ryan Seager earned Southampton Under-21s a 2-0 win over West Ham at Staplewood on Monday.
After midfielder Gape had given them the lead inside 10 minutes when his corner somehow evaded a busy six-yard box and crept inside the post, striker Seager pounced inside the final quarter of an hour to seal the win and extend their unbeaten run to nine games.
Despite having already beaten the Hammers at Upton Park earlier this season, it was the visitors who enjoyed much of the early possession in the opening exchanges.
However, it was Martin Hunter’s side who took the lead after eight minutes when Dom Gape’s inswinging corner from the left eluded everyone and beat Raphael Spiegel at his near post.
Sam McQueen – who had registered the first effort of the afternoon, forcing Spiegel to tip his shot over just prior to the opener – then almost added to the advantage, but his weak effort was easily gathered by the West Ham keeper.
It had already been a memorable week for forward Seager, who made his first team debut in the 3-2 FA Cup defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday, and the home-grown hitman worked tirelessly to press the Hammers’ backline. His persistence paved the way for another shooting opportunity for McQueen, who dragged it wide midway through the half.
Though they enjoyed a considerable amount of time on the ball during the first 45, the visitors only threatened sporadically, with the best of their opportunities falling to Reece Oxford, whose overhead kick was scrambled clear after Paulo Gazzaniga had spilled a corner.
After the restart, Diego Poyet – son of Sunderland manager Gus – swung an inviting free-kick onto the head of Djair Parfitt-Williams, who glanced well over Gazzaniga’s crossbar as the Londoners sought a way back into the game. Then, after Jake Flannigan’s clearance had rebounded into his path, Jordan Brown and then Joe Powell both failed to pull the trigger in time, and the chance was gone.
But the game was made safe after 77 minutes, as Spiegel’s poor pass out from the back was intercepted by McQueen, who squared for Seager to finish and secure the three points.
Southampton: Paulo Gazzaniga, Jake Flannigan, Jason McCarthy, Bevis Mugabi, Matt Targett, Dominic Gape, Jake Hesketh, Lloyd Isgrove (Josh Sims 89), Jake Sinclair, Ryan Seager, Sam McQueen.
Unused substitutes: Will Wood, Will Britt, Marcus Barnes, Armani Little.
Goals: Gape (8), Seager (83)
West Ham: Raphael Spiegel, Sam Westley, Dan Potts (Alex Pike 45), Doneil Henry (Matthew Carter 79), Reece Burke, Reece Oxford, Joe Powell (Moses Makasi 71), Amos Nasha, Jordan Brown, Diego Poyet, Djair Parfitt-Williams.
Unused substitutes: Sam Howes, Emmanuel Onariase.