26/11/2011: Bristol City 2-0 Saints

Southampton fell to their first league defeat in two months today, with a 2-0 reverse at the hands of Bristol City. The hosts fully deserved all three points, and were without doubt the best team on the day. City's quick winger Albert Adomah caused all sorts of problems from the early stages, and was the most dangerous player on the pitch. Things started to go wrong for Nigel Adkins's side from the 7th minute when Richard Chaplow was forced off injured following an awkward collision in the middle of the park. Morgan Schneiderlin was brought on in his place and proved to be a more than adequate replacement. The visitors were on top for the first half and hour or so, but failed to create much in the way of clear cut chances. Adam Lallana had a shot well saved by David James after completing a one-two with Schneiderlin, but that was about it. Saints played some decent stuff at times, but lacked a real cutting edge in the final third. City gradually came into the game as the half wore on, and had a number of decent chances before the break. Adomah had a shot hit the side netting, while Marvin Elliott saw his weak effort fall straight into the arms of Kelvin Davis. Dean Hammond was disposed by Nicky Maynard on the edge of the area, but the striker squandered his opening. Just before the interval Stephen Pearson had a great opportunity for the home side after rounding the keeper, but the angle proved to be too tight, as Jos Hooiveld brilliantly steered the ball away from the net.

Bristol City opened the scoring three minutes into the second half when Adomah's shot took a huge deflection off Danny Fox. Saints stormed forward with real intent following the goal, and were unlucky not to level it up. Jose Fonte had a glorious opportunity when he found Fox's free kick inside the box, but his header went narrowly wide. Moments later Fonte broke forward on the right hand side, before delivering a low cross inside the six yard box to Guly, but the Brazilian lost his footing before he had a chance to pull the trigger. City then enjoyed good spells of possession, and frustrated the visiting side who struggled to get any real rhythm going. Substitute Steve De Ridder was put through on goal by Fox, but he blasted his shot over the bar. De Ridder was also booked for diving after going down in the box. The home side put the game to bed on 84 minutes when Maynard's shot looped over Davis following another deflection. Saints huffed and puffed in the closing stages of the contest, but failed to find any openings as Bristol City's defence held firm.

It just wasn't our day today. Saints looked good in spells, but played with less fluency and verve than usual. Credit to Bristol City, who limited space in the middle of the park with their constant pressing. The home side also caused plenty of problems going forward. It's the first time this season we've spent large portions of the game without the ball, and we conceded far too many chances. Make no mistake about it though, City are a very good side, much better than their league position suggests. We certainly could have played better, but we shouldn't be too concerned yet. It's unfair to expect beautiful football every week. Sometimes you have to just accept you were beaten by the better side, and today was one of those days. I saw nothing that suggested this was the start of a slump for us. We'll be back to our best very soon don't you worry.

Attendance: 16,346 (2,173 Saints fans)

Match Ratings:

Davis: 5. Just not his day. Made a number of mistakes, and his kicking could have been better.

Richardson: 6. Distribution below par, but some decent forward runs in the second half.

Fonte: 7. Solid in defence and also broke forward to good effect on a number of occasions

Hooiveld: 7. Coped well up against Nicky Maynard. Decision making was first class.

Fox: 6. Came off worse against rapid right winger Albert Adomah, but did reasonably well going forward.

Chaplow: A neat little backheel was all he had to show for his performance before limping off injured in the early stages.

Hammond: 5. Gave the ball away far too many times, especially in the first half.

Cork: 6. Usually kept it simple in possession. Made some decent runs forward too.

Lallana: 7. Our most creative player early on. Skill bamboozled opposition defenders. Didn't see as much of the ball in the second half, but still looked effective at times.

Lambert: 6. Had a very quiet day, failing to get any decent efforts on goal. Wasn't entirely helped by the lack of service to be fair.

Guly: 6. Some decent work off the ball and some good flick ons and one-touch play. Struggled in the air when Saints were forced to play long however, and missed a decent chance to score.

Substitutes:

Schneiderlin: 7. Strong in the tackle with some good long passes.

De Ridder: 5. Didn't have the same impact as usual after coming on.

Barnard: A few decent touches, but still doesn't look entirely match fit.