Southampton’s youngsters progressed to the final of the Senior Cup at the expense of Lymington Town thanks to a late free kick from Callum Slattery.
Saints’ three previous rounds in the competition had racked up an aggregate score of 21-0, but they did not have it all their own way on neutral territory at Blackfield & Langley.
As expected, they dominated much of the play, but a bobbly and rain-soaked pitch made it tough to play through Lymington, whose goalkeeper Ross Casey was in fine form.
Saints’ Siph Mdlalose should at least have tested Casey when put through by Ben Rowthorn’s first-time ball over the top, but the diminutive forward lifted his shot too high.
Slattery’s set-piece delivery would cause problems all night, and the midfielder nearly caught out Casey with a clever effort from the corner of the box brilliantly tipped on to the crossbar.
Skipper Alfie Jones then saw a point-blank header saved from Tyreke Johnson’s right-wing corner, before tricky winger Johnson drifted infield to force another good stop from Casey down to his right.
In fairness to Lymington, having weathered an early storm they restricted Saints to fewer chances as the game wore on, and were not afraid to get physical to unsettle their youthful opponents.
Opportunities were at a premium after the interval, but Olufela Olomola had a clear sight of goal from a Nathan Tella cross that just skipped up in front of the striker, who will still feel he should have done better than lift his shot over the bar from six yards.
But Saints continued to press and were finally rewarded nine minutes from time, as the previously unbeatable Casey could only help Slattery’s inswinging free kick from wide on the left into his own net for a slightly fortunate winner.
Lymington Town 0-1 Saints
Southampton Senior Cup semi-final, Blackfield & Langley FC
Scorer: Slattery 81’
Saints XI: Latham (GK), Freeman (Davis 64), Jones (C), O’Driscoll, Wood, Rowthorn, Slattery, Tella, Mdlalose (Hamblin 64), Johnson, Olomola.
Lymington Town XI: Casey (GK), Davies, Stephenson, Walker (C), Fuller, Jarvis (Jordan 90), Hurst, Roberts, Fee, House, Willett.