Saints Under-18s’ first match of their pre-season trip in Spain ended in a 2-0 defeat to Villarreal at the Spanish side’s training ground on Sunday.
Second-half goals from Beli and Akale sealed the hosts’ win in a match where Southampton could have had a few goals of their own.
Marcus Barnes nearly had several goals after he saw a shot cleared off the line and another hit the woodwork in the opening stages of the encounter.
It was Saints who began proceedings in more positive fashion, Mark Irvine taking advantage of sloppy passing in defence to intercept and send Barnes through on goal.
The striker’s sixth-minute attempt was flicked with outside of his boot, clipping ‘keeper Javi and slowing on its way to the net before being cleared off the line.
The hosts’ number-one was powerless in his attempts to prevent Barnes in the 12th minute when a ball was played over the forward but after beating Javi with a right-footed slam, he saw the effort rise and crash off the top of the crossbar.
Villarreal nearly took full advantage of Saints’ failure to take an early lead when a corner was met with a goal-bound header that was blocked by the torso of Armani Little.
Three attempts in as many minutes followed for the Yellow Submarine, with midfielder Beli being the recipient of two.
The first of which rolled to the youngster in ample space from a deflected cross, only to scoop well over from just inside the box.
The home side then robbed Southampton of possession from distance, allowing Chepe to hit a long-range effort that was palmed around the post.
A minute later, Beli latched onto Little’s pass in defence but could only curl the ball onto the near post in a one-on-one with ‘keeper Nick Croucher.
On the stroke of half-time Beli broke into space 20 yards from goal but drove a shot that fizzed narrowly over the goalframe.
The Spaniard wasted two inviting opportunities five minutes after the restart when he took advantage of a completely missed attempt at a clearance with a shot dragged wide before a much tamer shot rolled to substitute ‘keeper James Needle.
The replacement custodian had just as much of a comfortable effort to stop ten minutes into the second half when Villarreal substitute Akale wiggled his way through midfield before sweeping the ball straight into the ‘keeper’s arms.
Needle was forced into making the finest save of the game by some distance as the hour-mark approached when Beli was presented with yet another chance – courtesy of substitute Pibe this time – when the latter chipped across for a Beli volley that was saved by an impressive leap towards the top-left corner of the net.
Beli finally made an opportunity count in the 68th minute when tight Villarreal interplay saw the ball pulled back from the right for the midfielder to sweep a low shot into the far corner.
The win was sealed for the hosts when Akale charged towards the box, cut inside from the left and curled a powerful shot that Needle’s palm couldn’t stop from flying into the top corner.
Villarreal U18s: Javi, Miguelón, Maldo, Rafa (Cassano 46), Pau, Mathi, Chuca, Beli (Rodri 69), Chepe (Manu 46) Dario (Akale 46), Pablo (Pibe 46). Unused substitutes: Joan, Guinot.
Southampton U18s: Nick Croucher (James Needle 46), Richard Bakary (Alfie Jones 46), Ollie Cook, trialist (Ben Cull 50), Josh Debayo, Armani Little (Stuart Wilkin 78), Joe Lea, Dan Demkiv (Carel Kayembe 61), Mark Irvine (trialist 46), Stuart Wilkin (trialist 46), Marcus Barnes (Mark Irvine 69). Unused substitutes: Colm Deasy.