Preston North End U18s’ run in the FA Youth Cup came to an end at the quarter-final stage, as Southampton left Deepdale with a 3-1 victory.
Kamari Doyle broke the deadlock for the Premier League outfit just 11 minutes in with an inch-perfect free-kick, before North End drew level through a fantastic Noah Mawene penalty on the 20-minute mark.
PNE more than held their own from that point and were the side on top in the second half, but goals from Doyle and Dominic Ballard sealed victory for the Saints.
North End started the game with an unchanged XI from the side which came out on top in the fifth round against Luton Town.
The visitors had a great early chance to open the deadlock at Deepdale as Doyle weaved his way into the penalty area, only to be thwarted at close range by a combination of Finlay Wallbank and goalkeeper Tommy Davis.
There was nothing Davis could do 11 minutes in, though, as Doyle sent a 20-yard free-kick right into the top corner.
Doyle could well have had his second of the evening soon afterwards, with Ballard showing good footwork before finding the forward, who sent his left-footed effort over the bar.
At the other end, Josh Seary set his sights on rushing forward and his positive play was rewarded when he was brought down just inside the area, leaving the referee no choice but to point to the spot, and skipper Mawene stepped up to expertly find the bottom left corner.
Six minutes before the break, there were big opportunities at either end. It was the Saints threatening first through Tyler Dibling, who drilled a promising ball across the box only for the retreating Mawene to clear, and he was soon at the other end to find Finlay Cross-Adair, who chested the ball down well before firing into the side-netting.
Ballard had the first real chance of the second period in its early stages, sending a close-range effort over the bar, before Rodriguez-Gentile did the same for North End on the end of a good knockdown from Cross-Adair.
PNE were enjoying a really positive spell and had another great chance in the 64th minute, with Seary’s header finding Kian Taylor in space inside the area, but he was leaning back as his first-time strike went into the stand behind the goal.
Against the run of play, the Saints went back ahead through Doyle three minutes later, as he glided through midfield towards the edge of the box before finding the bottom corner.
It was then three for the visitors with ten minutes of normal time remaining, when Ballard cut onto his right foot before finishing under goalkeeper Davis.
There were late opportunities which fell to the likes of substitute Ethan Eccleston and striker Cross-Adair, but they were both left frustrated and the game ended 3-1 in the visitors’ favour – bringing North End’s fantastic cup run to an end.
PNE line-up: Davis; Wallbank (Eccleston, 71), Taylor, Best; Seary, Kamara, Mawene, Nelson (Wilson, 77), Slater; Cross-Adair, Rodriguez-Gentile. Subs not used: Wilkinson, Pasiek, Horan, Pemberton, Havard.
Southampton line-up: Mohamed; Davis, Armitage, Helwett, Meghoma; Dibling, Andrews (Squires, 45), Bragg (Stepien-Iwumene, 78), Amo-Ameyaw; Doyle, Ballard (Chavez-Munoz, 85). Subs not used: Jeffries, Lett, Merry, Higgs.
Referee: Mr A Jackson.