Northampton Town Under 18s lost 3-2 away to Southend United in the EFL Youth Alliance League South East on Saturday.
Damaray Anyadike scored a first-half hat-trick for the hosts on a wet morning in Essex.
Cobblers manager Jon Brady made two changes to the team that drew 1-1 away to Cambridge United last week, as Miguel Ngwa and Jack Connor replaced Tom Scott and Lewis Gilbert in the lineup.
Southend opened the scoring three minutes in, when Louie Arrowsmith’s cross was turned home at the far post by Anyadike.
Anyadike doubled his tally and his side’s lead after seven minutes, placing his shot home after being played through by Oli Coker.
Cross found the bottom corner from a free-kick to score his eighth league goal of the season and pull one back for the Cobblers 10 minutes later.
They almost drew level moments later, as Cross forced George Murray-Jones into a good save before Jack Connor hit the underside of the bar.
However, Southend regained their two-goal lead against the run of play soon after, when Anyadike cut inside and curled in off the post to complete an 18-minute hat-trick.
On the half-hour mark, Charlie Woods brought down Anyadike in the area. He made up for his error by making a low save from Coker’s penalty.
Connor was denied on the line by Murray-Jones before substitute Kieran Watkins-Robinson volleyed just over as the Cobblers looked to get back into the game in the second-half.
Josh Flanagan reduced the deficit with one minute of normal time remaining, firing in his third goal of the campaign after Watkins-Robinson kept an attack alive.
However, it was too late for the Cobblers to salvage anything from the match and they fell to a narrow defeat.
They host Luton Town next week. Tommy Curry and Cross scored in a 2-2 draw away to the Hatters in November.
Starting XI – Woods (GK); Bailey (C), Dyche, Flanagan, Lashley (sub Tomlinson, HT); Lack (sub Scott, 54), Abimbola, Cross; Ngwa (sub Watkins-Robinson, 56), Connor, Curry. Unused subs – Hill, Gilbert.
Goals – Cross (2-1, 18), Flanagan (3-2, 89).
Booking – Woods (foul).