05/11/2011: Coventry 2-4 Saints

Saints secured their first away win in over two months, seeing off Coventry 4-2 at the Ricoh Arena. It was a hard fought victory, with the Sky Blues battling back from 2-0 down to level it up in the second half, but Nigel Adkins's men finished the game strongly and ran out deserved winners. Saints controlled possession throughout the first half, although the hosts initially defended well enough to limit any clear cut openings. Morgan Schneiderlin had the first real chance when he shot wide after a one-two with Rickie Lambert. Moments later Jack Cork had a long range effort fly narrowly over. Saints began to open up their opponents a lot more as the half wore on, regularly switching the play from left to right. Coventry played a very effective offside trap, as the visitors looked to thread the ball through to Guly Do Prado and Lambert. On 30 minutes Adam Lallana put in a cross to the back post, which was headed across goal to Guly, who in turn nodded just over. Four minutes later Saints took the lead through Richard Chaplow, who was played in by Guly. The Brazilian also had a role in the second goal five minutes later, drawing out the keeper after a run down the byline before cutting the ball back for Lallana, who tapped it into an open net. Coventry rarely threatened before the break, managing just a few wayward long range hit and hope efforts.

Saints seemed to switch off at the start of the second half, and let the Sky Blues back into the game almost immediately. Sammy Clingan's 47th minute corner went to Southampton born Lukas Jutkiewicz, who had a simple job of making it 2-1 after being found completely unmarked in the six yard box. It would have been 2-2 just moments later were it not for Kelvin Davis tipping the ball over the bar. Coventry recognised their best chance of getting back into the game would be through set plays, and they launched a number of dangerous long balls into the box. They eventually got their equaliser after a defensive mix up. The ball bounced off Jose Fonte and Frazer Richardson before landing to Clive Platt, who finished from close range. Nigel Adkins's men responded brilliantly however, and steamed forward in search of the winner. The pressure paid off on 77 minutes when Guly headed in from a Danny Fox cross. Saints looked completely comfortable from that point on, controlling the game with slick passing football. It was 4-2 on 85 minutes after Guly brilliantly disposed a Coventry player before finding Rickie Lambert, who crossed for Steve De Ridder to poke the ball past Joe Murphy. Saints could have had 5 in stoppage time after David Connolly expertly worked his way through the home sides defence before firing wide.

Another fantastic day for Southampton Football Club. Despite the second half scare, Saints put on their best away display for weeks, and were fully deserving of their win. The Southampton of old might have gone on to lose that game at 2-2, but things are different these days. Nigel Adkins got it spot on yet again today, and made exactly the right changes at exactly the right time. The three substitutes made a huge difference, and helped us see out the closing stages of the game with relative ease. Defensively we're still not perfect, but at the other end of the pitch we look irresistible. Guly was particularly impressive today, scoring one, setting up two and starting the move off for another. The Brazilian has now been involved in 9 of our last 10 goals (Goals/assists). The only one he wasn't a part of was the third against Middlesbrough when he was already off the pitch. Saints go into the international break five points clear of second place and six clear of third. With a favourable run of fixtures coming up, there’s a good chance that we can extend the gap even further.

Attendance: 15,621 (3,008 Saints fans)

Match Ratings:

Davis: 6. A spectator for most of the match, but did make a couple of crucial saves when the game was still in the balance.

Richardson: 7. Slightly suspect defensively at times, but excellent going forward.

Fonte: 6. Still not playing as well as we all know he can. Looked shaky at times, and at fault for the second Coventry goal.

Hooiveld: 6. Lost his man from the corner that led to the first goal, but otherwise fairly solid. Unlucky not to score again with a header that went narrowly wide.

Fox: 8. Comfortable on the ball and a great cross for the third goal

Chaplow: 7. Another high energy display. Faded slightly just before coming off, but made a big contribution in the first half.

Cork: 8. Always looking to receive the ball, and some excellent forward runs.

Schneiderlin: 8. Did well working the ball out of tight areas, and got forward with good effect towards to end of the game.

Lallana: 8. Slightly less showboating than normal, but still a highly productive display. A goal and a good battle with the Coventry right back.

Lambert: 8. Played in a slightly deeper role than normal, and provided good creativity.

Guly: 9 A goal and three assists, plus some fantastic one touch play and flick ons. Opened up so much space for others

Substitutes:

Hammond: 7. A steadying influence towards the end of the game, working well just in front of the back four.

De Ridder: A goal and the usual dangerous runnning

Connolly: A great three minute performance. Good link up play with De Ridder.