Southampton Under-23s suffered their first Premier League 2 defeat of the season, as they lost 3-0 to their Sunderland counterparts away from home.
A young Saints side were beaten by two goals from Josh Maja and one from George Honeyman, as the Black Cats proved too strong at the Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground.
Perhaps with the Checkatrade Trophy in mind on Tuesday night, Saints were much-changed for the clash with the Black Cats. Adam Parkes, Ollie Cook, Will Wood, Dom Gape, Ben Rowthorn and Harley Willard all came into the side.
Saints had seen off Liverpool and Manchester United in their opening two fixtures, but they were up against it from just the second minute against Sunderland.
Black Cats striker Maja capitalised on a defensive error before he rounded debutant Saints goalkeeper Parkes to net the opening goal of the game inside 120 seconds.
Thomas O’Connor created the first real opening for the visitors as he breezed past a number of Sunderland bodies, but his shot flashed inches wide of the far post.
At the other end, Maja turned provider to send Honeyman racing clear, but Saints did well to crowd out the attacking midfielder as he looked to work a shooting opportunity.
A last-ditch tackle from Rowthorn then prevented Honeyman from having a glorious chance to tap home from close range after excellent work down Sunderland’s right-hand side.
Olufela Olomola was then denied by a smart save from Max Stryjek, as Saints looked to get themselves level before the half-time interval.
Instead, they found themselves two goals down. Josh Robson was first to react to a deep cross from the left, and his ball back into the box was met by Maja, who headed beyond Parkes at the back post.
The third goal for the hosts arrived on the hour mark, as a cross into the box broke kindly for Honeyman, and he rifled home impressively from 12 yards.
Saints were close to an immediate response, as Gape’s corner caused the hosts problems, but Wood’s strike from close range was diverted away from goal accidentally by teammate Olomola.
Parkes made two impressive saves late on to deny Sunderland a fourth, but Saints were unable to mount a comeback as they suffered their first league defeat of the season.
Sunderland Under-23s: Max Stryjek, Josh Robson, Michael Ledger, George Brady, Tommy Robson, Ree Greenwood, Ethan Robson, Dan Wright, Elliott Embleton (Carl Lawson 61), George Honeyman (Dan Casey 87), Josh Maja (Luke Molyneux 77).
Unused substitutes: Olly Payne (GK), Josh Poame.
Goals: Maja (2 & 40), Honeyman (60)
Southampton Under-23s: Adam Parkes, Yan Valery, Ollie Cook, Alfie Jones, Will Wood, Dom Gape (c), Ben Rowthorn (Callum Slattery 73), Thomas O’Connor, Harley Willard (Siph Mdlalose 65), Josh Sims (Tyreke Johnson 89) , Olufela Olomola.
Unused substitutes: Neal Osborn (GK), Jake Vokins.