Ryan Seager scored a late but deserved winner as Southampton beat Manchester United in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League on Monday evening.
It looked like Saints would have to settle for a point, having hit the woodwork twice in the second half as well as having an effort cleared off the line.
But Seager came up with the goods in injury time, springing the offside trap before finishing confidently to secure his side victory at the end of a dominant performance.
Technical Director Martin Hunter picked a strong side for the game at the Staplewood Campus, boosted by the addition of Matt Targett and Harrison Reed – both of whom were on the bench for the first team the previous day.
Division One leaders United, meanwhile, included the experienced Jonny Evans in their defence as he works his way back from injury.
The first half was a keenly-contested affair but ultimately one of few chances, with 27 minutes on the clock when Seager became the first to have a go at the target. However, the Saints attacker’s effort flew well over Ben Amos’s goal.
That seemed to be the cue for Saints to step up the pressure, with Seager seeing another attempt fizz just over the bar following good work down the right by Reed and Lloyd Isgrove.
Reed then saw a free-kick deflect wide before United had a couple of half-chances in as many minutes, but neither Liam Grimshaw or Will Keane gave Paulo Gazzaniga much to do as the Saints ‘keeper saved both shots with ease.
The second half started in a similar fashion to the first, with no shortage of effort and endeavour but a lack of concrete chances.
Hunter’s team did at last fashion the game’s first proper goalscoring opportunity on 65 minutes. A barnstorming run down the left by Sam McQueen led to his cross finding the head of Seager, whose looping effort was cleared off the line by Marnick Vermijl before Omar Rowe’s follow-up was superbly saved by Amos.
James Weir then drew a simple save from Gazzaniga as United looked to respond to that narrow escape, before Saints quickly stepped up their game once again.
First Targett’s well-hit free-kick clipped the top of the crossbar, before the left-back’s cross narrowly eluded both McQueen and Rowe as they stooped to reach it at the back post.
Hunter’s team got even closer on 81 minutes when Rowe did well to shift the ball onto his left foot before curling towards goal, only to see his effort come back off the post with Amos beaten.
But the goal finally arrived just inside injury time as Isgrove combined well with Jake Hesketh to play in Seager, who duly finished past Amos to round off an impressive victory.
Southampton U21s: Paulo Gazzaniga, Jake Flannigan, Jason McCarthy (c), Bevis Mugabi, Matt Targett, Harrison Reed, Jake Hesketh, Ryan Seager, Omar Rowe, Lloyd Isgrove, Sam McQueen (Dominic Gape 76). Unused substitutes: Harry Isted (GK), Ollie Cook, Harley Willard, Josh Sims.
Goal: Seager (90+1)
Booking: Reed (86)
Manchester United U21s: Ben Amos, Saidy Janko, Donald Love, Jonny Evans, Marnick Vermijl (c), Liam Grimshaw (Callum Evans 55), Ben Pearson, Joe Rothwell, Andreas Pereira, James Weir, Will Keane. Unused substitutes: Joel Pereira (GK), Matthew Willock, Ashley Fletcher.
Bookings: Rothwell (31), Pearson (42)