Adams brace and Ballard debut goal as Southampton defeat Cambridge United in EFL Cup

Che Adams of Southampton celebrates after scoring their side's second goal with Stuart Armstrong during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Cambridge United and Southampton at Abbey Stadium on August 23, 2022 in Cambridge, England.

CHE Adams hit a second brace in successive games before 17-year-old debutant Dom Ballard finished League One opposition Cambridge United in the second round of the EFL Cup.

The Scottish international scored in both halves, following his double to win the match at Leicester City on Saturday, before magic Ballard continued his fine scoring form into the first-team to seal a 3-0 win.

Saints awarded three first-team debuts to their most promising of academy youngsters – Lewis Payne, Dom Ballard and Diamond Edwards – after their involvement in the under-18s title-winning season and 100 per cent start to the B team campaign.

Academy starlets Dynel Simeu, Payne, Edwards and Ballard all travelled with the squad for the contest, meanwhile, amid future speculation, there was no Nathan Redmond or Jack Stephens – but Jan Bednarek was present

The Pole started as Ralph Hasenhuttl made nine changes from the victory over Leicester City on Saturday, which also included Che Adams returning to the starting fold and a start for 18-year-old Payne.

Adam Armstrong and Moi Elyounoussi were the only players to keep their place, as Alex McCarthy kept a clean sheet on his first appearance of the season.

Saints defeated League Two Newport County 8-0 win at this stage last season. Cambridge United, who are 11th in League One, beat Millwall 1-0 to reach the second round this time around.

The hosts themselves also made as many as seven changes, clearly prioritising a league charge over the second domestic cup competition.

Saints looked comfortable. Adams had a goal ruled out for handball inside the first three minutes, before Elyounoussi saw one well saved – both with impressive shots on the turn inside the area.

It only took another 10 minutes for Adams to get on the scoresheet legitimately, debutant Payne bursting into the box and squaring for the Scottish international to tap home and open.

The U’s grew into the game and limited Saints’ chances but the away supporters kept going with a cycle of chants, which included tribute to the late, great David Armstrong.

A Armstrong thought he had his first goal of the season in the final five minutes of the half, but his effort was cleared off the line after slick play from Payne and Adams.

Just 10 minutes after the break, Adams got his second for back-to-back braces. This was not his most aesthetically pleasing of late, taking a touch before driving in after Oriol Romeu’s shot was parried.

In the build-up to the goal, Cambridge United wanted multiple handballs, fouls, offsides and any other infringement – leaving the home support furious and shouting ‘cheats’.

With 15 minutes to go, Hasenhuttl handed out a second senior Saints debut with 17-year-old Ballard replacing his academy teammate Payne – who was impressive at first sight.

The youngster captured a dream moment, following up on his initial saved shot to thump into the roof of the net for a first Saints goal in the final five minutes.

Cambridge United: Mannion; Williams, Haunstrup, Digby, Jones, Ironside, Smith, Lankester, Ibsen Rossi, Janneh, Simper.

Subs: O’Neil, Tracey, May, Okenabirhie, Knibbs, Worman, Yearn, Mitov (g/k).

Saints: McCarthy; Payne (Ballard, 74), Bednarek, Lyanco, Valery; Romeu, Diallo (Edwards, 90), Elyounoussi (Djenepo, 66); S Armstrong, A Armstrong (Aribo, 66), Adams (Mara, 66).

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