Coventry 1 Southampton 2
Sat 7th January 2012
Southampton travelled to Coventry on the back of some very poor results having picked up only 8 points from a possible 24.
The game began with the new looking Saints outfit on the back foot as Coventry pressed. As early as the 4th minute a clear chance fell to Roy O'Donovan but his shot was saved by Bialkowski who had stood up well.
The relief was short lived however as Coventry swarmed forward and a cross into the area was met by Gary McSheffry who volleyed the ball into the back of the net with a superb drive which gave the keeper no chance.
Coventry were really pressing hard and it took a while before Saints were able to get a foot in the game. Slowly their efforts were rewarded with a greater share of the play, but without causing many alarms to the Coventry defence.
On the half hour McSheffrey had a header go over the bar. A minute later and Jack Cork tried his luck with Saints first shot of the day which flew well wide of the target. Then Morgan Schneiderlin had a go and though his effort was closer it didn't trouble Coventry keeper Chris Dunn.
With time running down in the first half Saints conceded a corner. From the corner Gary Deegan had a close range shot well saved by the legs of Bialkowski who had spread himself to great effect.
The second half began with Saints getting a chance thanks to a bad defensive blunder. Ward-Prowse found himself one on one with the keeper but he scuffed his shot which gave Dunn the chance to dive onto the ball.
Saints had changed formation at the break and now Lallana was back out on the left with Doble operating as the loan striker. Ward-Prowse was now sitting just behind Doble as Saints changed from the diamond formation trying to get more width.
On 51 minutes Martin Cranie beat Doble and carried the ball forward before passing out to the left. McSheffrey ran on and cut inside before unleashing a shot which Bialkowski did well to save. Moments later McSheffrey again did well on the left before passing to O'Donovan but a great tackle from Jos Hooiveldt stemmed the danger.
Saints made their first substitution in the 59th minute with Sam Hoskins coming on for Ryan Doble. The change worked well for Saints as four minutes later we scored. The ball was crossed in from the left and it was met by Ward-Prowse who managed to turn it home. 1-1 and game on.
Coventry immediately changed O'Donovan with Shaun Jeffers. It didn't seem to have any impact though as Saints were getting more and more of the ball. A neat move at the other end resulted in Harding smashing a powerful volley narrowly wide of the right post from 20 yards.
Entering the final throes of the game and it became much more open. Saints still appeared the more controlled but Coventry were not lying down. Ben Reeves came on for Ward-Prowse which meant Lallana moving back inside making room on the left for Reeves.
Jos Hooiveldt then had a header at goal from a Daniel Fox cross which was saved quite comfortably by Dunn. With Saints dictating, Coventry made another change with Hussey replacing Wood.
After another attack brought them a corner, Saints struck. Fox chipped into the box and Aaron Martin, the young centre-back, Headed powerfully goal-wards. Dunn managed to get a hand to the ball but the header was too powerful for him to keep his goal intact. 82nd minute and Saints had broken Coventry resistance and the remaining time passed relatively comfortably.
All in all this game proved to be a satisfactory work-out for some of our fringe players. Ward-Prowse and Martin both netting their first goals for Saints was a plus.