Paul Sturrock continued the task of assessing his entire squad as he watched from the stands as Saints reserves defeated Leicester 3-1 at St Mary's last night.

No less than seven players who have featured in the first team this season were on show with Darren Kenton, Stephen Crainey, Danny Higginbotham, Fitz Hall, Marian Pahars Jo Tessem and Leandre Griffit all starting.

But it was one of the young guns - Simon Gillett - who got the first goal.

It came after 17 minutes when a scramble in the box saw the ball break to Gillett at the far post and he drilled it low across the keeper and into the far corner.

The first half was by far the more entertaining with both sides having chances to get on the scoresheet.

On eight minutes Pahars curled a shot just wide while seven minutes later it was the turn of his strike partner Tessem to have a crack, this time with a free header from eight yards which was directed rather tamely to keeper Danny Coyne.

Griffit was a danger early on and after 23 and 26 minutes Coyne had to be sharp to keep him out.

After Tessem had a shot deflected wide, Paul Smith had to be on his guard to keep out Paul Dickov and Frank Sinclair while, ironically, the next chance came for Keith Gillespie - the third of the 'La Manga' three - who lifted his effort over the bar.

Danny Higginbotham, playing in his more natural central defensive role even though he may be needed at left-back at Portsmouth on Sunday with Graeme Le Saux likely to be out injured, hit a free-kick that needed saving just before the break.

The second half started slowly but Hall looked comfortable and composed on the ball in the centre of midfield rather than in his normal central defensive role.

The game came to life with 17 minutes left when Pahars lifted the ball over the keeper but also the bar.

But there was no stopping him five minutes later. After Sinclair had fouled Kenton on the right side of the area, Crainey curled in a free-kick that Pahars flicked across goal and into the far corner.

Pahars again went close on 80 minutes before Leicester pulled one back with eight minutes remaining when Tom Williamson's low drive from the edge of the area beat Smith.

But Saints had the final say when, in injury time, Crainey and Yoann Folly combined to offer Hall the chance to cap a good display with a simple chance which he duly tucked away.

Saints: Paul Smith, Darren Kenton, Mike Williamson, Danny Higginbotham, Stephen Crainey, Simon Gillett (Martin Cranie 62), Fitz Hall, Yoann Folly, Leandre Griffit (Stuart Anderson 84), Marian Pahars, Jo Tessem.

Unused subs: Andrew McNeil, Matthew Mills, Leon Best.

Booked: Hall (dissent 40), Griffit (foul 42).

Leicester: Danny Coyne, Nicolas Priet, Frank Sinclair, Richard Stearman, Liam Powell, Levi Porter, Lilian Nalis, Tom Williamson (Stephen Dawson 85), Peter Canero, Keith Gillespie, Paul Dickov.

Unused subs: Paul Murphy, Tomi Petrescu, Ryan McGavigan, Louis Dodds.

Ref: M Mullarkey.

Att: 2,801