Saints Under-18s were pegged back by Barclays Under-18 Premier League leaders Chelsea as they drew 2-2 at Staplewood on Friday afternoon.
Olufela Olomola handed Saints the lead against table-topping Chelsea with a smart finish from Dan Demkiv’s superb delivery with 30 minutes gone for his first of the campaign.
Josh Sims, in similar fashion to the goal he scored in the reverse fixture, then curled home beautifully from outside the area to double the lead for Saints before half-time.
The league leaders responded in the second half, with Isaac Christie-Davis making it 2-1 with an excellent chipped effort ten minutes after the restart before substitute Tammy Abraham found a late equaliser to deny Saints' youngsters all three points.
Anthony Limbrick made five changes from Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, with Kyle Clinton, Niall Mason, Josh Debayo, Callum Slattery and Sims all coming into the side.
Top goalscorer Marcus Barnes was unavailable for the second game in a row with injury, as Limbrick gave support to Olomola through Sims and Demkiv. With Clinton back available, Alfie Jones moved into the midfield three having played at the heart of the defence against Spurs.
The visitors began the game on the front foot, but it was the pressing of Slattery and Sims that led to Saints creating the first chance of the game. The former won the ball back and it broke kindly for Sims, who in turn fed the ball through to Olomola, but his left-footed strike drifted wide of the far post.
The lone striker had made a bright start to the game, and went closer to opening the scoring six minutes later. On this occasion, Chelsea stopper Brad Collins was down smartly to deny Olomola from eight yards.
Shortly after Sims had been denied by another save from Collins, Olomola made it third time lucky, as he finished smartly from Demkiv’s excellent cross into the box.
Demkiv was also involved in Saints’ second, as his cross was only cleared as far as Sims, who turned on the ball and curled the ball beautifully past Collins from 22 yards.
The visitors, who had not really threatened during the opening 45 minutes, went close to finding a way back into the game shortly after the restart.
Substitute Abraham almost made an immediate impact having been found by Christie-Davis, but the striker was unable to connect and Harry Isted gathered comfortably.
Abraham was then denied by a last-ditch tackle from Mason as the striker looked to finish following a good ball into him from Christie-Davis.
Having provided Abraham with two opportunities, Christie-Davis took matters into his own hands as he chipped the ball over Isted into the far corner from 15 yards.
Limbrick made a couple of changes to freshen things up, but it was Demkiv who was unlucky not to restore Saints’ two-goal lead. The winger cut in from the right and curled a left-footed effort against the base of the post as the hosts countered well.
As Chelsea went in search of an equaliser, Saints had to thank Cook for an excellent clearance off the line after Abraham had looped the ball over the onrushing Isted.The visitors had scored 39 goals in just 12 games before their visit to Staplewood and they got their 41st when Abraham finally got his goal inside the final ten minutes, finishing off a neat attacking move.
Substitute Armani Little made an important clearance in stoppage time to ensure it finished level and make it just one defeat from their last six games for Limbrick's side.
Saints Under-18s: Harry Isted, Niall Mason, Ollie Cook, Kyle Clinton, Josh Debayo, Alfie Jones, Joe Lea (Armani Little 57), Callum Slattery, Josh Sims, Olufela Olomola (Carel Kayembe (64), Dan Demkiv (Harley Willard 74)
Subs not used: Richard Bakary, Jake Hallett (GK).
Goals: Olomola (28), Sims (39).
Chelsea Under-18s: Brad Collins, Charlie Wakefield, Josh Grant, Ali Suljic (Jake Clarke-Salter 45), Trevoh Chalobah, Ruben Sammut, Miro Muheim (Tammy Abraham 45), Mukthar Ali, Faiq Bolkaih (Fikayo Tomori. 60), Isaac Christie-Davis, Kasey Palmer.
Subs not used: Jared Thompson (GK).
Goals: Christie-Davis (55), Abraham (85).