Southampton Under-18s travel to Brighton this Saturday, as they look to bounce back from a 1-0 defeat at home to Norwich City last time out.
That result meant a rare loss this season for Craig Fleming’s side, who have started the Under-18 Premier League campaign strongly.
Following two entertaining games with the Seagulls last term – a 3-3 draw and a 3-2 defeat – the Under-18s coach is expecting another good contest.
"I think we were pretty well-matched last year,” said Fleming. “Pretty dangerous going forward, although not the greatest defensively, but I think we've come on a lot since then. We're a lot harder to play against now.
“It will still be a tough game. The games they've played, they've always been in them and giving everybody a pretty decent run.”
Fleming added: "The hard work we put in about defending and being hard to beat is definitely paying dividends.
“Last time out we didn't score, but we looked dangerous going forward, so all in all, looking back at the first little segment everybody's really pleased with the progress the boys have made.”
A number of Fleming’s players have already progressed upwards this season and been utilised by the Under-23s, with this week likely to be no different, meaning a number of first-year scholars should see significant game time.
"It goes back to that age old problem that every under-18s coach has, if you do well and the players play well then you bid farewell to them,” said Fleming.
“From a competitive point of view, obviously that can be a disadvantage, but that's what we're about. We're about developing players, getting them up the ladder and into Martin and Radhi's squad, and that's happened quite a lot this year already and will do this weekend.”