Southampton’s Under-23s kicked off their pre-season with a 1-0 win over their counterparts from Fulham on Saturday afternoon at Staplewood Campus.
Marcus Barnes’ first half close range header was the only goal of the game, while a clean sheet at the other end will have been equally pleasing for the hosts.
Martin Hunter’s men started the game with a good level of intensity as they pressed the visitors back in the opening exchanges.
And they were rewarded for that when Barnes struck in the 12th minute. It arrived from a second corner in quick succession following Dominic Gape’s driving run and shot forward which was deflected wide.
The second set piece delivery from Thomas O’Connor reached the far post where Olufela Olomola knocked it back across the six yard box and Barnes met it with a close range header to find the back of the net.
Fulham’s best chance of a response in the opening 45 minutes came from a free-kick awarded midway through the half for a foul on Elijah Adebayo. Defender Aron Davies stepped up to take a shot at goal but his effort cleared the crossbar without troubling ‘keeper Will Britt.
Saints had half a chance to double their lead before the break when the ball arrived with Gape inside the area, but he fired over.
Fulham started the second period looking for an equaliser, and saw Sean Kavanagh test Britt with a direct effort from a free-kick on the right which the Saints stopper had to push wide.
At the other end, Olomola took aim with a shot that was held by Fulham ‘keeper Magnus Norman, before Saints introduced three substitutes just past the hour mark including Harley Willard who replaced Josh Sims as he succumbed to cramp.
The late appearances from Dan N’Lundulu and Siph Mdlalose drew an opportunity with quarter of an hour remaining, but the former’s effort went over the bar following good link up just outside of the area.
In the closing stages Connor Langan cleared a Fulham header from the line as Saints held out to record a victory.
Southampton U23s: Will Britt, Richard Bakary (Connor Langan 60), Ollie Cook, Jordan Turnbull (Archie Thomas 73), Will Wood (Tyreke Johnson 60), Thomas O’Connor, Dominic Gape, Ben Rowthorn (Siph Mdlalose 73), Josh Sims (Harley Willard 67), Olufela Olomola, Marcus Barnes (c) (Dan N’Lundulu 73)
Unused substitutes: Neal Osborn (GK)
Fulham U23s: Magnus Norman, Ryheem Sheckleford (Anthony Dolan 46), Scott Malone, Josh Smile (c), Aron Davies, Sean Kavanagh, Luc de la Torre, Dennis Adenian, Josh Walker, Elijah Adebayo, Adetayo Edun
Unused substitutes: Jake Soutter, Stephen Humphries
Referee: Aaron Moody