Radhi Jaïdi believes a very young Southampton side proved they can compete with senior professionals after going toe to toe with Forest Green Rovers at The New Lawn in the Leasing.com Trophy.
Saints travelled with a squad comprising a number of Under-18 players to the home of the League Two club, who were play-off semi-finalists last season.
Jaïdi’s team took an early lead through Harlem Hale’s cool finish, and later levelled the scores at 2-2 courtesy of Dan N’Lundulu’s solo effort, only to be undone by an 89th-minute winner.
“We had a mixed group today – the Under-23s with some of the Under-18s, who have really good talent,” the coach said.
“The Under-23s led the younger boys, but together they stood up to the challenge, and you can see they can implement this kind of performance at this kind of level.
“We said from the start that this is the best experience our Academy boys can get in their development, and they showed they deserve this kind of experience.
“We created a lot of chances, we imposed ourselves in many situations and we scored two goals, which is really good considering the younger boys we have, and I think we deserved more.
“It’s against a team with some older boys and senior experience, so I thought our performance was good and the reaction from last week was really positive. It’s something we can definitely build on.
“You could see the spirit; the will and desire to work hard and do what we needed to do to get back in the game.
“It’s really positive from that aspect, and it’s something we can build on to get ourselves to a better level.