13/08/2011: Barnsley 0-1 Saints

Saints made it two wins out of two with a 1-0 victory over Barnsley today. David Connolly scored the only goal of the game 30 minutes in. The score line didn't tell the whole story however. Southampton dominated the majority of the game, with Barnsley barely touching the ball in the first half. Before the goal, Nigel Adkins's men had much possession in the final third of the pitch without creating too many clear cut chances. For all the good football we played, the goal itself was fairly scrappy. A series of header's flashed across Barnsley's penalty area, before David Connolly eventually nodded in. Saints continued to play tremendous passing football in the second half and at one point put together about 25 consecutive passes. This led the travelling supporters behind the goal to chant "We are Southampton we're taking the piss" and "It's just like watching Brazil". Barnsley only threatened in the last ten minutes after Richard Chaplow was rightly sent off for a high challenge on Jay McEveley. They were close to an equaliser at the end with a dramatic goal mouth scramble, but Saints saw it out to claim all three points and a place at the top of the Championship table. It would have been an absolute travesty if we had not come away with a win.

It sure is a great time to be a Saints fan at the moment. Not only are we winning, we are also playing better football than we've played in years. When Alex Chamberlain signed for Arsenal on Monday, some supporters were slightly disappointed, but nearly everyone said Lallana was much more important, and boy did he prove them right today. The guy never fails to amaze, he seems to get better all the time. He was on a different level to anyone else today, and Barnsley couldn't handle him. What really impresses me most about Lallana is his consistency. Often flair players like him struggle to perform to a high standard every week, but Adam rarely has a bad game (I'm struggling to think of his last one). What was more pleasing about today's performance was how well we did defensively. Against Leeds a week ago we looked slightly shaky at the back, but today we handled Barnsley superbly and kept them quiet for most of the match. Dan Seaborne and Frazer Richardson are much improved from last season.

Today we saw more encouraging signs that we are on the right track. Of course it's still early days and we've seen plenty of false dawns before. This match reminded me a lot of our 1-0 win over Derby at the start of the 2008/09 season. We looked equally impressive that day, but couldn't keep it up and got relegated months later. Things are surely different now though. We look more cohesive than we have in a long time and have strength in depth in all positions. We will no doubt come up against much stronger opposition than Leeds and Barnsley soon, but with a few more quality additions set to sign soon, added to what we already have, there's no reason why we won't have more days like we had today. Ipswich are a good side and will be our biggest test to date when we come up against them on Tuesday.

Finally a quick word for the Southampton fans at Oakwell today. Top support! We took more there than we have before (Usually about 800 in previous seasons) and were in good voice throughout. The numbers we are taking to away matches is growing all the time and long may it continue.

Attendance: 10,501 (1,138 Saints fans)

Match Ratings:

Davis: 8. Dealt with everything Barnsley had to throw at him.

Richardson: 7. One of his best performances in a Saints shirt. Growing in his new role as a regular starter

Fonte: 7. Another flawless display

Seaborne: 7. Coped very well with the late Barnsley pressure. Passing could have been better.

Harding: 7. Wasn't tested much defensively, but linked up well with Lallana.

Guly: 7. Skill caused Barnsley problems. Opened up plenty of space.

Cork: 8. Another superb showing. He is perfect for this team.

Hammond: 7. Grafted away all match, playing an important role in the win.

Lallana: 9. Controlled the game. A joy to watch.

Connolly: 7. Worked tirelessly as always, and yet another goal

Lambert: 7. Held the ball up well and had a hand in the goal.

Subs:

Chaplow: Did well before being sent off

De Ridder: A few more glimpses of brilliance

Schneiderlin: Brought on to keep the ball after the team went down to 10