Southampton completed a convincing 4-0 victory at home to Crawley Town in their final Checkatrade Trophy group fixture.
An own goal from Crawley goalkeeper Yusuf Mersin and strikes from Siph Mdlalose, Callum Slattery and Olufela Olomola ensured that Saints progressed into the knockout stages as the leaders of their group.
Martin Hunter’s men made a swift start to the encounter at St Mary’s and soon had a two-goal advantage.
The first came in somewhat fortunate circumstances after just three minutes, as Crawley Town goalkeeper Mersin punched Slattery’s early in-swinging corner into his own net at the near-post.
The galvanised Saints then pressed for a second, and they soon forced an opening. Josh Sims hounded the visiting backline and latched onto a loose ball, before skidding down the left flank and crossing for Mdlalose to head low into the bottom corner.
Having raced to a two-goal lead within the opening ten minutes, Saints then almost added another before the break.
Smart footwork and a deft pass from Lloyd Isgrove teed up Sims with space in the visitors’ penalty area, who curled an effort past Mersin and into the far corner – only to be denied by the offside flag.
Hunter’s men did eventually have their third before the interval. The onrushing Slattery met Sims’ cutback on the edge of the Crawley penalty area and rifled low into the bottom corner to cap off an impressive first-half performance.
Both sides made changes at the interval. Jake Flannigan replaced Yan Valery for Saints, whilst Chris Arthur made way for Addison Garnet for the visitors.
Olomola almost made it four for Saints ten minutes into the second-half. The striker latched onto Mersin's loose throw and broke free into the penalty area, but the Crawley stopper was able to make amends for his earlier mistake and steer Olomola's low strike to safety.
Despite being denied, Olomola would soon have his goal. The striker volleyed another Sims cross goalwards on the 78th minute, and although Mersin got a hand to the strike, he could do little else but steer it into his bottom left corner to complete the scoring for the evening.
Harry Lewis (GK)
Alfie Jones (C)
Josh SimsTyreke Johnson (87′)
Yan ValeryJake Flannigan (45′)
Siph MdlaloseWill Smallbone (82′)
Yusuf Mersin (GK)
Chris ArthurAddison Garnett (45′)
Enzio BoldewijnJordan Roberts (64′)
Billy Clifford (C)Matt Harrold (53′)