Southampton Under-18s suffered a 3-0 defeat to their Swansea City counterparts at the Staplewood Campus on Saturday afternoon.
A goal in either half from Liam Cullen and one from Liam Edwards saw the visitors take all three points back to Wales with them and condemn Saints to a fifth defeat in a row.
With the Under-21s’ schedule back up and running and a number of injuries to key members of Martin Hunter’s side, Craig Fleming named a youthful looking starting line-up for the visit of the Swans.
Oskar Cvjetičanin took the captain’s armband to lead a team that included six first-year scholars, with Siph Mdlalose making his first start of the campaign on the left wing.
With the FA Youth Cup clash against Birmingham City just around the corner, this was a chance for many of Saints’ youngsters to stake their claim in the blustery conditions at Staplewood.
The first effort at goal came from the visitors however, with striker Cullen curling the ball wide from distance after picking up a loose ball 35 yards from goal.
Cullen would not be denied however when he had another opportunity just after the 30-minute mark. The Swans striker beat Ben Rowthorn in the box before firing the ball low into the far corner beyond Jake Hallett.
Saints looked for an immediate response as Harley Willard picked up the ball on the edge of the box, but three Swans players were out quickly to block the winger’s effort.
Fleming’s side looked to up the tempo at the start of the second half, and thought they had levelled soon after the restart when Carel Kayembe found the bottom corner. Unfortunately for Saints, the flag was raised for offside against the striker.
Willard then put in a teasing cross that Kayembe was just unable to get his head to as the hosts started to increase the pressure on the Swans goal.
At the other end, Harry Lewis – who had come on to replace the injured Hallett in the first half – produced a fine stop to keep his side in the game.
Swansea’s Edwards got clear of Connor Langan and pulled the ball back across for Jack Watts, but Lewis got a firm hand behind the shot and was able to claw it away to safety.
Edwards was again at the heart of proceedings as the Swans extended their lead moments later. The winger played a neat one-two with Cullen before lifting the ball over the onrushing Lewis.
Yan Valery almost grabbed an immediate response for the hosts after latching on to a good pass from Kayembe, but the Frenchman’s effort was tipped away by Lewis Thomas.
After Lewis had made another smart save for Saints from Cullen’s shot, Archie Thomas saw a shot flash just wide of the target at the other end.
The visitors would have almost certainly grabbed a third with ten minutes remaining as substitute Brandon Griffiths raced clear, but defender Rowthorn produced an excellent sliding tackle to clear the danger.
A disappointing afternoon was compounded as Cullen grabbed his second and Swansea’s third, firing home from just inside the penalty area.
Fleming’s youngsters will need to pick themselves up quickly, with Birmingham City set to visit St Mary’s on Thursday night in the third round of the FA Youth Cup.
Southampton Under-18s: Jake Hallett (Harry Lewis 39), Connor Langan, Ben Rowthorn, Oskar Cvjetičanin (c), Yan Valery, Rugare Musendo, Joe Lea, Harley Willard, Archie Thomas (Stuart Wilkin 80), Siph Mdlalose (Richard Bakary 65), Carel Kayembe.
Unused substitutes: Thomas O’Connor, Alfie Jones.
Booked: Jake Hallett (17)
Swansea City Under-18s: Lewis Thomas (c), Aaron Lewis, Connor Quigley, Brandon Cooper, Sean Hanbury, Jordan Jones, Tom Dyson, Liam Edwards, Jack Watts (Keiran Evans 75), Causso Darame (Brandon Griffiths 67), Liam Cullen.
Unused substitutes: Ross Treacy (GK), Mael Davies, Ben Morgan.
Goals: Liam Cullen (35 & 89), Liam Edwards (62)
Referee: Loannis Christodoulou