Southampton's B team suffered a heavy defeat to Premier League 2 leaders Manchester City on Monday afternoon.
Liam Delap’s 17th and 18th goals of the season either side of the interval and a 49th minute Callum Doyle strike gave the hosts a comfortable advantage early into the second half.
Midfielder Adrián Bernabé added City’s fourth three minutes shy of the hour mark before Saints grabbed a goal of their own in the 65th minute; Caleb Watts finding the top corner from range with a strike that deserved to be more than a consolation.
City completed their scoring with a quick-fire double during the final ten minutes, as substitute Felix Nmecha’s double confirming a dominant afternoon for the league leaders.
The visitors welcomed back some regular faces to the side this week, as the likes of Alex Jankewitz, Kayne Ramsay and Dan Nlundulu all featured from the start.
City also had plenty of fire power within their line-up as the league’s top scorer Delap, alongside the prolific Cole Palmer and James McAtee, all started.
But it was one of Saints’ younger players who had the game’s opening chance; Jayden Smith bursting clear of the City defence, but unable to reach the pinpoint pass before City keeper Cieran Slicker.
Next saw an opportunity for Delap, who couldn’t get the looping ball under control and so fired over from close range.
A second chance then came for Delap just minutes later as the dangerous front man was played in on goal but denied by a superb Jack Bycroft save, who came off of his line quickly to close down the angle.
City continued the early pressure; Sam Edozie firing a low ball across the face of goal which eventually was put behind by Allan Tchaptchet.
Saints’ immediate response came through Nlundulu, who carried the ball past three City players with a central run as the home side backed off.
The likes of Kazeem Olaigbe and Caleb Watts then followed suit, using their close control to maintain possession and drive Saints up the field.
City’s threat remained, however, finding the inch-perfect pass on multiple occasions leading to the likes of Delap and Edozie being released on the break.
And it was from one of these breaks that the home side gained the lead just shy of the half hour mark.
After doing superbly well to block Edozie’s shot and force a corner, Saints failed to track the run of Delap at the back post, who headed home his 17th goal of the season.
The visitors continued to throw men forward; Watts surging up field and laying the ball off to Zuriel Osteh-Taiwo, whose deep cross was met at the back post by Olaigbe who could only volley over.
Olaigbe was involved again minutes later, carrying the ball through midfield and having a shot from range which had its pace and threat nullified by the deflection.
As the half drew to a close Saints continued to push forward; Will Ferry skipping past full-back Alpha Diounkou but unable to produce a cross before the ball rolled out for a goal-kick.
It was equally fast start to the second half by Dave Horseman’s side, winning a corner within the first 30 seconds.
But City’s threat on the counter also remained, which eventually resulted in the second goal of the afternoon.
After a quick break the ball eventually fell to the feet of Callum Doyle inside the penalty area, with the City defender making no mistake and bundling the ball past Bycroft despite claims of an offside flag.
Bycroft did well to prevent a third just two minutes later; the Saints keeper pushing away a fierce strike by City’s skipper Tommy Doyle.
The third didn’t take long, however, with Delap played through one-on-one and slotting past Bycroft for his 18th of the season.
City dominated possession during the second 45, which soon reflected on the score-line.
Bernabé hit an effort across goal in the 57th minute which deflected past Bycroft and made it 4-0 to the hosts.
Horseman made a double change following City’s fourth as Sam Bellis and Lucas Defise entered the fray.
The added energy soon got its reward in the 65th minute; Watts picking up the ball in central midfield before finding the top corner with a strike of the highest accuracy.
City were by no means happy to settle for just four, Palmer typifying this with a darting run and fierce strike which Bycroft did well to turn behind.
The Saints defence were kept busy all afternoon, with City adding their fifth just shy of the last ten minutes.
Delap made the most of a fortuitous deflection inside the visitors’ penalty area, to dink the ball over Bycroft and complete his hat-trick.
In terms of possession the game remained relatively balanced, however City proved ruthless going forward.
Nmecha, who entered the pitch with ten minutes to go, scored two further goals for the hosts as the score line grew even greater in City’s advantage.
Saints will look to bounce back at Snows Stadium next-time-out, with Liverpool visiting Snows Stadium on Sunday.