Jason Dodd’s Under-18s prolonged their winning streak to four consecutive matches following a 3-1 win over Chelsea on Saturday morning.
The two teams played out a goalless draw in the reverse fixture during January for a game which kicked off the Elite Group, but there were no signs of a repeat in this contest as Saints dominated the opening 45 minutes, scoring all three of their goals in the first half.
Saints peppered Chelsea’s goal early on, with Sam Gallagher, Harrison Reed and Gboly Ariyibi all having efforts that tested the hosts.
The breakthrough arrived on 24 minutes in a more routine fashion when Sam McQueen’s corner was powerfully headed home by Bevis MUGABI to put the visitors in front.
A high pressure performance from Saints paid dividends in the 32nd minute, with that intensity forcing an error as Isaac Nehemie’s pass into the area was passed back towards goal by a Chelsea defender and rolled under the goalkeeper’s foot to cross the line for 2-0.
And before the break, Saints helped themselves to a third when Gallagher took the ball round the Chelsea 'keeper, and was subsequently brought down inside the box to give the visitors a penalty.
For the second successive week, skipper Dominic GAPE stepped up and made no mistake as he converted from 12 yards to make it 3-0.
In the second period, Dodd’s side remained largely on top, but were beaten on 58 minutes when Chelsea followed up a save made by Chris Johns to reduce the deficit.
Despite that effort, the visitors were good value for their victory, and the 18s coach paid tribute to his continually improving team.
“We’re on a decent run and the lads are performing daily,” Dodd said.
“We’re working hard and reaping the benefits. All of the players are performing fantastically and we bossed the game today.
“It was a solid performance defensively. I thought Bevis (Mugabi) had a great game and so did the back five all round really.
“We play Palace next week and expect another tough test.”
Saints U18s: Johns, Leggett, Mugabi, Colmer, Nehemie, Reed, Gape (Flannigan 75), Ariyibi, McQueen (Higgins 75), Seager, Gallagher (Sims 85). Subs (not used): Isted, Wood