Southampton Under-18s slipped to their first defeat in three games as they lost 2-0 at home to West Ham United in the Barclays Under-18 Premier League.
After victories against Fulham and Swansea City in their previous two outings, confidence was high as the Hammers were welcomed to the Staplewood Campus.
Saints, despite having the majority of possession in the opening 45 minutes, struggled to break down their stubborn opponents.
It was the Hammers who went into the interval ahead as they took the lead through Grady Diangana just before the break.
Academy Manager Matt Hale introduced Dan N’Lundulu at the break, and a switch in formation helped Saints get themselves on the front foot.
Joe Lea, who scored in the win against Swansea City last weekend, and N’Lundulu both had good chances in the second 45 minutes to draw the hosts level.
But just as they were starting to ask more questions of the visitors, West Ham doubled their lead in unfortunate circumstances.
Goalkeeper Jake Hallett came off his line to punch away a cross, but the ball bounced off the back of Ollie Cook’s head and found its way into the empty net.
Despite a couple of late half-chances, West Ham held on to claim only their second win of the campaign and move above Saints in the standings.
Speaking to saintsfc.co.uk after the game, Hale said: “We’ve had two good results so it was disappointing not to keep the run going, but after what I would call an inefficient first half, the players responded after the break.
“We had a quite a bit of the ball higher up the pitch. It was a pleasing second-half effort. The boys really had a go and that was positive.”
Southampton Under-18s team: Jake Hallett, Richard Bakary, Ollie Cook, Alfie Jones, Ben Cull, Joe Lea (Rugare Musendo 75), Ben Rowthorn (Thomas O’Connor 60), Harley Willard, Stuart Wilkin, Carel Kayembe (Dan N’Lundulu 45), Olufela Olomola (c).