Southampton Under-18s manager Craig Fleming was left disappointed with his young side’s performance in their 4-0 defeat at home to Reading.
A Saints side of mostly first year scholars were well beaten by a confident Reading outfit, who currently sit second in the Under-18 Premier League table.
“A few home truths were said in the dressing room after that,” explained Fleming.
“They were a young eleven out there today; they are not the ones who have been starting every week for us.
“As a group they haven’t had massive exposure to Saturday morning games with the Under-18s, as they have mainly been playing with the Under-17s.
“So you can kind of excuse it for those, but not for what we saw for the majority of the first half: a lack of desire and willingness to run.”
Saints went in 2-0 down at the break, before Ben House completed his hat-trick and Jordan Holsgrove netted a fine strike to round-off the scoring in the second half.
And Fleming was quick to pinpoint two key areas for his side to improve.
“They are young lads learning the game,” he continued.
“It’s very difficult for them, as I have always said. There’s a big physical difference between first years and second years with the growth spurt you get at that age, so it was always going to be a hard ask.
“But they will learn a lot from today. Defensively we need to get a lot sharper and communication is a massive area for improvement. They were very quiet today and as an ex-defender I know that’s a huge part of being organised at the back.”