Ralph Hasenhuttl praised his youngsters after Southampton beat Shrewsbury 2-0 in their rearranged FA Cup third-round tie.
Hasenhuttl chose to go with a mix of experience and youth after making seven changes from the Premier League defeat at Leicester last weekend.
Dan N’Lundulu marked his first start for the club with a goal in the 17th minute while the likes of Caleb Watts, Jake Vokins and Kgagelo Chauke were given a chance to shine.
James Ward-Prowse sealed the win with a clever curled free-kick just before full-time as Saints set up a fourth-round clash with Arsenal.
“We played against a League One team and it was a good moment for them to step into the team,” Saints boss Hasenhuttl said.
“We tried to give them the chance to show up and I think they did OK. They were a little bit nervous at the beginning but I think after five or 10 minutes you could see they really wanted to play.
“They had a clear plan of what we want to do, how we want to play and finally when Dan N’Lundulu scores it’s good for the young lads.
“Caleb did some good dribbling, Vokins, it was not the first game for him but he’s comfortable on the left side, and Kegs after the first minutes was OK. He showed that he can play football and he’s calm on the ball.”
The game, originally scheduled for January 9, was postponed following a coronavirus outbreak at Shrewsbury, which saw their training ground closed and their last match was a win over Blackpool on December 29.
The Shrews were without manager Steve Cotterill who had to watch the game from his hospital bed as he continues his recovery from Covid-19.
The 56-year-old was admitted to hospital after his symptoms took a turn for the worse and has spent time in intensive care.
Assistant boss Aaron Wilbraham was proud of his side’s efforts.
“Yeah really proud of the boys and the effort they put in,” he said.
“(It was a) tough 14 days away from the training ground and obviously some of the lads suffered with the virus and just every adversity that we went through, the manager not being there, we could have used 15 excuses if we wanted to.
“So I’m so proud of them the way they’ve come together, the togetherness, putting their bodies on the line. I’m really proud.”
Assessing the game itself, Wilbraham added: “I think first half we had a lot better chances than they did, we were always in the game, until the final minute.
“We obviously had to change a few things, put two strikers on because we wanted to get goals and it’s the FA Cup, we wanted to get through to the next round and we knew they might break that formation.
“To give away the free-kick – we knew what James Ward-Prowse can do and we’ve watched free-kicks from him all week – but the goalkeeper was unlucky to be honest but it’s the last minute of the game and up until then we were in the game and (I’m) really proud of the boys.”