Southampton’s under-21s rounded off their pre-season schedule with 2-0 victory over Brentford at Staplewood on Tuesday evening.
In an entertaining first half, Saints forward Marcus Barnes missed a penalty before the tables turned as goalkeeper Will Britt impressively denied a spot kick from the visitors.
Barnes then made amends for his miss with a minute remaining of the first half, as he teed up Jake Hesketh to give the home side the lead.
In a quieter second half, Southampton managed to double their advantage when skipper Dominic Gape reacted first to a blocked cross, striking the ball into the bottom corner.
Technical Director Martin Hunter had a mixed group at his disposal, with Lloyd Isgrove and Gape named in a starting XI that also included first-year scholars Yann Valery and Ben Cull.
Saints made life hard for the visitors early on with some intense pressure making it difficult for Brentford to keep hold of the ball, although the Bees carved out the first shot on target but Britt saved well well.
Saints’ patience was rewarded with a 10th-minute penalty after Sims was tripped up by his marker, but Barnes saw his spot-kick was parried away by the visiting ‘keeper.
From that point on possession was balanced, but Saints had the territorial advantage with the Bees’ struggling to get out of their half.
The west Londoners came close to scoring when Britt dropped the ball following a cross, but Saints’ defence reacted first and cleared the danger.
That seemed to gave the visitors confidence and they won a penalty moments later, but their effort was stopped by Britt low to his left.
Instead it was Saints who took the lead a minute before the interval. Barnes impressively got behind the defence before cutting the ball back from the byline and, after Josh Sims missed the ball, Hesketh arrived late and calmly struck the ball past the ‘keeper.
The second half nearly began perfectly for Hunter’s side as Armani Little’s through-ball was only cleared by the Brentford goalkeeper as far as Sims, but his long-range effort bounced wide.
Saints did manage to double their lead in the 73rd minute when Isgrove’s cross ricocheted high in the air to find captain Gape, who arrived from midfield and smartly struck ball home.
The away side responded straight away, doing well to work the ball into Saints’ half before their winger cut inside and forced a good save from Britt.
It was an important final 10 minutes with the majority of these youngsters yet to play a full match in pre-season, but they comfortably managed to see off the game.
With pre-season now over, Hunter’s side look forward to their first game of new Barclays Under-21 Premier League season as they face Manchester City at Staplewood on Monday 10th August.
Southampton team: Will Britt, Yanm Valery, Ollie Cook, Wil Wood, Ben Cull, Dominic Gape (c), Armani Little (Callum Slattery 80), Jake Hesketh, Lloyd Isgrove (Harley Willard 80), Josh Sims, Marcus Barnes (Olufela Olomola 88).
Goals: Jake Hesketh (44), Dominic Gape (73rd)