SAFC Under-21s suffered defeat on Monday afternoon, going down 3-1 to Southampton in Premier League 2 action.
The young Lads trailed 3-0 at the break following a disappointing first half, Jimmy-Jay Morgan scoring twice and Tyler Dibling adding a third.
Olly Lancashire’s own goal pulled one back for Graeme Murty’s side early in the second half, and despite a much improved performance after the break, the Lads were unable to breach the Southampton defence any further.
Saints started strongly and saw a strike arrow just wide as Sam Bellis found space on the edge of the area.
The Lads were unable to muster an attack before the visitors took the lead, as Morgan was brought down in the box. He took and scored the penalty himself, rolling it to Jacob Carney’s left.
And he doubled his and Southampton’s tally soon after, charging down Carney’s clearance to see the ball ricochet over the line for a 2-0 scoreline after 27 minutes.
Within the half-hour mark, it was three. Dibling picked the ball up just inside the area and had space to take advantage of, firing a low strike into the net for an unassailable lead.
The closest the Lads could come were via two chances, Michael Spellman diverting Nathan Newall’s cross over the top before Leon Dajaku hit the side netting after a pacy run.
Morgan was denied a hat-trick at the other end, his shot blocked onto the post by Zak Johnson.
The second half witnessed a huge and much-needed response from Sunderland, which immediately reaped a goal back when Niall Huggins – who captained the side and got another crucial 90 minutes in the tank – sent a ball in from the right which was headed past his own goalkeeper by Lancashire.
Spellman and Ellis Taylor were then both denied by Saints ‘keeper Ollie Wright, before Tom Chiabi’s strike deflected inches wide off Taylor.
A far more controlled Lads side created further as Southampton were forced into a rare change of shape, Dajaku beating Lancashire and chipping just wide, before 15-year-old Chris Rigg saw a shot blocked as he was given a half-hour runout.
Southampton created little in the second half – Bellis curling a free-kick just wide in one of their only attempts – but saw out the encounter to take the three points back to Hampshire.
The PL2 now takes a back seat for a World Cup break, but the U21s will continue their season with the remaining five fixtures of the Premier League Cup all to be played before Christmas. Next up is a trip to New Bucks Head to face Wolverhampton Wanderers next Monday in PL Cup matchday two.
SAFC U21: Carney; Huggins, Crompton, Johnson, Newall; Chiabi (Rigg 60’), Burke (Kachosa 82’); Spellman (Kelly 79’), Taylor, Dajaku; Thompson (Gardiner 86’).
Subs not used: Cameron.