Saints completed their pre-season schedule of away matches with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Brighton at the AMEX Stadium.
There were three different scorers on the night for the visitors, as Dušan Tadić’s first goal for the club and Steven Davis’s first half strike was added to by a wonder effort from James Ward-Prowse in the 62nd minute. The hosts pulled one back through substitute Kazenga Lua Lua on 74.
Despite conceding their first goal of pre-season, Ronald Koeman will have been encouraged by the performance on the whole, as his team selection continues to take shape ahead of the Premier League’s opening game in just over a fortnight.
Artur Boruc, Nathaniel Clyne, and Jose Fonte all began this game having also completed 90 minutes at Bournemouth last week.
New loan arrival Ryan Bertrand was handed a start at left back, while Victor Wanyama returned from international duty for his first club appearance of the summer schedule in place of Jack Cork who dropped to the bench. Uruguayan playmaker Gastón Ramírez missed out altogether after picking up an injury during the week.
Opponents Brighton included summer signings David Stockdale, Chris O’Grady and Aaron Hughes in their starting line-up, with the host playing their first match under new manager Sami Hyypia at the AMEX.
The Seagulls offered a resolute stance in the first quarter of an hour, and tested Boruc through Jake Forster-Caskey’s 13th minute free-kick, but the rest of the opening half belonged to Saints.
Koeman’s side flashed a warning when Nathaniel Clyne and Tadić linked up well down the right hand side before playing the ball into Pellè, who had a low close range strike saved by Stockdale.
However, the Brighton stopper could do nothing about the following effort on 19 minutes. Jose Fonte’s low pass forward found Tadić who, with unerring confidence swept a sweet shot into the bottom right corner for 1-0.
Tadić caused Brighton all sorts of problems on both flanks, and the Serbian saw another shot loop out of play via a deflection before James Ward-Prowse became the next Saints player to test Stockdale with a rising shot, which the former Fulham ‘keeper had to gather at the second attempt.
Bertrand showed his solidity in defence and a willingness to get forward, and he was involved in the move that saw Davis denied by Stockdale.
Saints doubled their advantage two minutes before the break when Tadić had a shot blocked, which Isgrove then headed down into the path of Pellè, whose volley found its way to Steven Davis, and the Northern Irishman wrapped a shot around Stockdale into the right side of the goal for 2-0.
Kelvin Davis and Matt Targett were introduced for the second period in Saints’ only changes during the interval, with the visitors maintaining their attacking threats for the new half.
One of those was Isgrove, who continued to make a nuisance of himself against the Brighton backline, and he set up Davis for a fierce volley at goal which Stockdale just about held on to, before Saints then stretched their lead just past the hour mark.
It came after Tadić had done well to recover the ball that he had lost, with it eventually running loose to Ward-Prowse who collected the ball and smashed an unstoppable rocket into the top right corner for the game’s third goal.
Brighton pulled one back on 74 when half-time substitute Kazenga Lua Lua pounced on a loose clearance and fired a high shot over Kelvin Davis to make it 3-1, which is the way it stayed, despite late efforts from Pellè and Davis, which were both blocked.
Brighton team: David Stockdale, Inigo Calderon (Bruno Saltor 46), Gordon Greer (c) (Lewis Dunk 46), Aaron Hughes, Adam Chicksen (Vitalijs Maksimenko 79), Rohan Ince (Nzuzi Toko 79), Andrew Crofts (Kemy Agustien 63), Jake Forster-Caskey, Shamir Fenelon (Kazenga Lua Lua 46), Solly March (Will Buckley 63), Chris O’Grady (Craig Mackail-Smith 46)
Unused substitute: Casper Ankergren
Goal: Lua Lua (74)
Southampton team: Artur Boruc (Kelvin Davis 46), Nathaniel Clyne, Jose Fonte (c) (Jack Stephens 90), Maya Yoshida, Ryan Bertrand (Matt Targett 46), Victor Wanyama (Jack Cork 65), James Ward-Prowse, Steven Davis, Dušan Tadić, Lloyd Isgrove, Graziano Pellè
Unused substitutes: Jos Hooiveld, Jake Flannigan, Sam McQueen, Harrison Reed, Emmanuel Mayuka
Goals: Tadić (19), S. Davis (43), Ward-Prowse (62)
Referee: Tim Robinson
Attendance: 7,296 (including 870 away)