Southampton secured their first home success of the Barclays U21 Premier League season with a comfortable victory over Norwich City at St Mary’s.
Martin Hunter’s side had the better of the game throughout, winning 2-0 thanks to Harrison Reed’s 13th-minute strike and a close-range finish from captain Jason McCarthy just after the break.
Technical Director Hunter was able to name a considerably stronger team than in his squad’s recent back-to-back losses, making five changes to the starting line-up from last Monday’s defeat by Everton.
Among those coming in was Matt Targett, who made his Barclays Premier League debut on Saturday, plus McCarthy and Reed, who were also on the bench for Saints’ first team against Queens Park Rangers.
Sam Gallagher and Lloyd Isgrove, who both resumed training last week following respective knee injuries, were included on the bench.
Norwich, meanwhile, named the experienced Sebastien Bassong in their defence, while former Celtic hitman Gary Hooper spearheaded their attack and Belgium international Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe was deployed in midfield
The first chance of the game fell to Saints on six minutes, as the ball bobbled around the Norwich area before finding Ryan Seager, whose shot on the turn was blocked by the legs of goalkeeper Ben Killip.
The opener duly arrived soon afterwards as Reed smartly seized possession on the right before quickly dispatching a shot that took a slight deflection to creep inside Killip’s right-hand post for one-nil.
Targett and Jake Flannigan saw speculative efforts saved by Killip just before the half-hour, while Norwich wideman Jacob Murphy tested Cody Cropper from distance soon afterwards to no avail.
Reed then went in search of his second long-ranger of the night only to see it held by Killip, before Omar Rowe flashed a low drive across the face of goal a minute later.
Saints’ second goal arrived seven minutes after the break when Reed’s hanging free-kick was nodded back across the area by the persistent Will Wood for skipper McCarthy to hook home from close range.
Josh Sims went close to wrapping things up on the hour, exchanging passes with Sam McQueen on the edge of the box before watching as his under-hit effort bounced off the post and behind with Killip well beaten.
That would be the England youngster’s last act of the evening as he and Seager made way to be replaced by the returning Gallagher and Isgrove.
McQueen then went close with a header from a Targett cross after a nice spell of play, before Norwich substitute Cameron King forced a good save from Cropper.
The Canaries had a good chance to halve the deficit on 74 minutes when Bassong headed towards goal from a corner, only for his effort to be calmly chested down and cleared away by Reed on the Saints goalline.
The last quarter-hour saw Saints carefully close out the game to secure their first home success of the campaign, much to the delight of those who turned out at St Mary’s, including first team manager Ronald Koeman and his staff.
Southampton Under-21s: Cody Cropper, Jake Flannigan, Jason McCarthy (c), Will Wood, Matt Targett, Harrison Reed, Jake Hesketh, Ryan Seager (Sam Gallagher 60), Josh Sims (Lloyd Isgrove 60), Omar Rowe, Sam McQueen. Unused substitutes: Will Britt (GK), Ollie Cook, Armani Little.
Goals: Reed (13), McCarthy (52)
Norwich City Under-21s: Ben Killip, Louis Ramsey (Cameron McGeehan 85), Kyle McFadden, Sebastien Bassong (c), Harry Toffolo, Reece Hall-Johnson, Conor McGrandles, Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe, Jacob Murphy, Gary Hooper, Jamie Eaton-Collins (Cameron King 51). Unused substitutes: Aston Oxborough (GK), Ray Grant.