The Under-21s suffered a third successive defeat in the Barclays U21 Premier League with a 3-0 reverse to Sunderland at Staplewood.
Saints have not recorded any points in the division since their opening-day success away at Liverpool, whilst the number of goals against has now risen to 13 as a difficult start to the season continued on Friday afternoon.
Sunderland in contrast made sure of a fourth win from four games with a lively and determined display which left Saints on the backfoot for much of the 90 minutes.
The hosts had the initial early half-chances with Jake Sinclair and Jordan Turnbull each going close inside the opening ten minutes of a competitive start to the contest.
Saints seemed to match up to their opponents in the first 20 minutes of play, but found themselves behind in the 22nd minute.
Powerful forward Mikael Mandron, who was a handful for the home side’s backline all afternoon, broke into the area on the right and forced a good low save from Cody Cropper in the Saints goal, but the ball bounced out kindly to George HONEYMAN who slammed it back into the net from eight yards out to give Sunderland the lead.
Lloyd Isgrove and Omar Rowe, who were amongst the First Team squad in midweek, sought to make amends for the goal before the break by switching flanks effectively, but the hosts went in one behind at the interval.
HALF-TIME: SOUTHAMPTON U21S 0-1 SUNDERLAND U21S
The rest gave Saints a timely boost as they were much quicker out of the traps in the second 45.
Coach Martin Hunter had made two changes to the team at the break as Corby Moore and Sinclair were withdrawn in favour of Andy Robinson and Jake Flannigan.
And Flannigan was involved in the first chance of the new half as he diverted Rowe’s corner into the path of full-back Jason McCarthy, whose header was well saved by Joel Dixon in the Sunderland goal.
The substitutes continued to make a decent impact on the game with Flannigan firing over inside the area, before Robinson had a long range strike saved by the Black Cats’ goalkeeper.
But, despite that early pressure, it was the visitors celebrating again on 58 minutes when the same combination which drew the first goal proved to be Saints’ downfall again.
Mandron used his physical strength and power to get into the box, where this time he played in HONEYMAN who struck a high shot straight into the net, giving Cropper no chance as Sunderland made it 2-0.
Saints pushed again with Harrison Reed firing over before Isgrove had a strong shot held by Dixon, but the visitors’ win was made safe with just under 20 minutes remaining.
Substitute Carl Lawson got the better of the Saints defenders before finding MANDRON and the striker hit a low drive into the bottom corner past Cropper to seal all three points for Kevin Ball’s side.
It could have been more for the visitors late on as they had an effort ruled out for offside, whilst Cropper was called upon twice more to deny both Duncan Watmore and Mandron.
Robinson’s last ditch strike at the other end was caught by Dixon shortly before the whistle went, leaving Saints with some work to do during their two-week break before they travel to Leicester.
FULL-TIME: SOUTHAMPTON U21S 0-3 SUNDERLAND U21S
Martin Hunter was frustrated by the loss and conceded that it was a bad day at the office for everyone.
“It certainly was and we were taught a lesson particularly in the first half,” he told Saints Player after the game.
“They played in a very similar way to us but they implemented it with energy and clever movement and passing which we were nowhere near.
“We just had a very long, protracted talk at the end of the game so I need to get hold of a couple of players next week to sort one or two things out in terms of their attitude.
“I made two changes at half time because it warranted it and for 20 minutes we pressed them more to what we’re akin to, but then we conceded two very, very poor goals. The first one is a long ball which we didn’t deal with and in the second one the situation came about from very poor defending.”
The number of goals to go against the team this season has raised concerns and Hunter was disappointed with the nature of all three efforts that went in.
“There are no excuses for it as they are very basic errors,” he explained. “We plan meticulously and we talked about the striker as a good player, but I have to say that he’s run all over and caused our two centre backs all sorts of problems and we couldn’t deal with them.
“In terms of ones v ones there aren’t many players who will come off the pitch today and say they’ve actually done their job and beaten their opponent.
“What you can’t forget is that this is a tough league,” Hunter added. “We play against different styles of opposition and they’ve got to be up for every game otherwise as we’re finding, you’re going to get sorted out.
“I just think their (Sunderland’s) attitude and the way they moved the ball was far superior than us today so we’ve got a lot of work to do once again in this break that we’ve got before we play our next game.
“We’ll be working very hard and putting to right a lot of the faults that we’ve had. We’ve got a lot of hard work to do.
“But I thought Jake Flannigan was very good when he came on and I also thought that Omar was bright at times. Apart from that, it was not a very good day.”
Southampton U21s team: Cody Cropper, Jason McCarthy, Jack Stephens, Jordan Turnbull, Matt Targett, Corby Moore (Andy Robinson 46), Harrison Reed, Lloyd Isgrove, Omar Rowe, Ryan Seager, Jake Sinclair (Jake Flannigan 46). Unused substitutes: Chris Johns, Fraser Colmer, Bevis Mugabi.
Sunderland U21s team: Joel Dixon, Liam Marrs, David Ferguson, Liam Agnew (Ross Holland 86), Scott Harrison, Tom McNamee, Duncan Watmore, Alejandro Rodriguez Gorrin, Mikael Mandron, George Honeyman (Carl Lawson 66), Adam Mitchell (Andrew Cartwright 86). Unused substitutes: Peter Burke.
Goals: Honeyman (22 & 58), Mandron (71)