SAINTS suffered FA Youth Cup final heartbreak at Portman Road last night - after 15-year-old Ipswich Town substitute Edward Upson struck a dramatic late winner.

Midfielder Upson drove home the deflected winner in the 118th minute to leave Saints starlets distraught after two closely-fought legs against a side they had beaten twice in winning their academy group by 24 points.

Penalties had looked inevitable before Ipswich hit Saints on the break with a swift counter-attack that resulted in Suffolk schoolboy Upson scoring the crucial goal from 20 yards to seal a 3-2 aggregate win.

Upson is not due to become an Ipswich scholar for another two months and was only named in the Tractor Boys' squad because Owen Garvan had picked up a mystery virus earlier in the day.

But he was the unlikely hero of the 2005 FA Youth Cup final - and Saints' youngsters collapsed to the ground in tears after he cut in from the left and fired beyond the despairing dive of Andrew McNeil.

Garvan had been taken to hospital in the afternoon and was replaced by right winger Danny Haynes.

Steve Wigley also made one change from the side that drew the first leg 2-2 at St Mary's on Monday night.

Kyle Citchell recovered from the ankle injury he suffered against Wolves in the semi-final second leg nine days earlier in time to replace Sebastian Wallis-Tayler at left back.

Saints chairman Rupert Lowe and manager Harry Redknapp took their seats alongside each other in the Portman Road directors' box and witnessed a nervy opening from both sides after the 14,889 crowd had stood for God Save The Queen.

Chances in the first half were few and far between but Ipswich's Shane Supple, who was on standby to be on the first team's bench at Leeds United this afternoon, was the busier of the two goalkeepers.

The EIRE under-17 international was put under pressure from crosses on more than one occasion, most notably from a ninth-minute Craig Richards centre as 6ft 4in midfielder Tim Sparv provided the aerial threat.

But it was a header from the shortest player on either side - 5ft 6in Saints winger Nathan Dyer - that provided the first effort on target, and it was directed straight at Supple, who saved comfortably, in the 27th minute.

Predictably, it was Theo Walcott who provided one of the few moments of genuine quality in the first half when, four minutes before the break, he received the ball with his back to goal in the inside left channel, before spinning and curling right-footed beyond the far post from 20 yards.

Saints keeper Andy McNeil had even less to do than his opposite number as Martin Cranie, one of two players in the Saints side with Premiership experience, put in a commanding performance at the heart of the defence.

But Ipswich posed a bigger threat after the break.

A perfectly timed block was provided by Sean Rudd on Haynes in the penalty area and then Critchell blocked the follow up from Darryl Knights.

McNeil punched the resultant corner clear, thankful that Ipswich did not have a target man in the mould of Best to take advantage.

But Saints' threat on the counter- attack was there throughout.

A quality final ball was lacking when Walcott's sprint down the left ended with a poor cross.

And, on the other flank, Dyer had two shots blocked, before Tim Sparv missed the best chance of the night after some Walcott brilliance in the 63rd minute.

But it would probably be fairer to credit Supple for two outstanding saves as Sparv's effort from inside the six-yard box was blocked at point blank by Supple, who clawed away the follow-up to deny the Finn his first goal of the competition, and his first since scoring the winner against Ipswich in the league earlier this year.

It signalled a period of Saints dominance. Dyer had a shot blocked, Walcott fired a 20-yarder inches wide, and then James stung the hands of Supple from distance.

In the 78th minute, Leon Best had the ball in the back of the net for what he thought was his seventh goal in eight FA Youth Cup games. But he drifted offside just before Walcott delivered a pinpoint, left-wing cross to the near post, where Best flicked the ball into the far corner as the linesman flagged.

Saints could have been excused for feeling it would not be their night, but in the very last minute of normal time, McNeil gave the away side renewed hope with a stunning double save from Knights and substitute Blair Hammond.

Ipswich switched to 4-3-3 at the end of normal time and Adam Lallana's introduction for Sparv midway through extra-time was a sign of Saints' desire to avoid penalties.

McNeil had been needed to save from Hammond for a second time at the beginning of extra-time after Walcott had volleyed over from 20 yards with the goal at his mercy.

Dyer then cut in and fired wide but a second penalty shoot-out in nine days looked inevitable during the second period of extra time - before Upson broke Saints hearts.