Manchester United's Under-18s slipped to a first league defeat since October when the last team to beat the young Reds repeated the feat in an entertaining affair at Southampton.
The Barclays U18 Premier League Elite Group game started at breakneck speed, with the Saints taking the lead after just two minutes, as Jake Flannigan fired past Pierluigi Gollini after a good run and cross from Gregory Ariyibi on the right wing.
United were level just a minute later though, as good interplay between Jack Barmby and James Weir led to Barmby's shot being pushed away by goalkeeper Chris Jones, but only into the path of Josh Harrop, who slotted into the open net to equalise.
After the frantic opening, the game settled into a calmer pattern, with the hosts testing Gollini from the flanks. Saints defender Jason McCarthy managed to beat the Reds' Italian goalkeeper, but his header was ruled out for a foul by Bevis Mugabi on Patrick McNair in the build up. United also had chances to edge in front with Harrop and Barmby both squandering decent opportunities having been put through on goal as half-time approached.
The second half did not start in the same barnstorming fashion as the first period, although Ariyibi would sting the palms of Gollini from distance, whilst Saints midfielder Sam McQueen screwed his shot wide from the edge of the penalty area. As the hosts grew in confidence, Ryan Seager forced another good save from Gollini from a tight angle.
United's first real opportunity of the second half came with just twenty minutes to go as substitute Sam Byrne's deflected shot thumped off the crossbar with Jones left grasping fresh air, but it was Southampton who would finally make their pressure pay with 15 minutes to go. Gollini failed to claim Wood's deep cross under pressure, and the lively