Saints came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw with Derby at Pride Park yesterday. Nigel Adkins's men were unlucky not to come away with all three points, having controlled a large portion of the contest. It was Derby who took the initiative in the early stages however. They scored after just three minutes when Theo Robinson followed up Ben Davies's shot, which had been well saved by Kelvin Davis. Saints quickly regrouped and spent the rest of the half looking for an equaliser. Nigel Clough's side worked hard to close down quickly, but the visitors were still able to find gaps and put together some good passing moves. David Connolly had a header saved from a Guly Do Prado corner. On 32 minutes Guly himself had a strong shot stopped by the fingertips of Frank Fielding. Fonte had a header off the line and Chaplow scooped the ball just over the bar before the break. Derby's most threatening player was nippy left winger Jamie Ward, who caused Richardson some problems. Apart from that the home side looked to grab a second from counter attacks and set pieces.
Saints stepped it up a gear in the second half, and began to pick Derby apart. The hosts barely got a kick in the first 20 minutes. The sustained pressure finally paid off on 61 when Rickie Lambert calmly finished past Fielding following a one-two with Connolly. The football was a joy to watch at times, as exciting as it has been all season. Saints played with great tempo and fluency. Adkins's desire to go for the win was evident after he substituted Chaplow and Richardson for Steve De Ridder and Dean Hammond. De Ridder made an instant impact, breaking free in the penalty area before going down too easily. We seemed to lose some of our momentum after the awesome Jack Cork was switched to right back. For all the pressure, Derby could have nicked it at the end with some good chances of their own. Both teams ran out of steam in the closing stages, as the game petered out without much incident. There was still time for Lambert to put in a headed cross, which was cleared away on the goal line.
Yet another very encouraging performance from Southampton. The only disappointment was that we didn't pick up a win that we probably deserved, but a draw away from home against a fellow promotion chasing side can still be considered a positive. There was a lot of worry among Saints fans just before kick-off when Adam Lallana's name was missing from the starting line up. Previously we have struggled without him and lacked creativity in the final third, but that can't be said this time. The likes of Guly and Connolly provided great movement in dangerous areas, while Cork and Schneiderlin pulled the strings in midfield. Rickie Lambert continues to impress up front, and can now genuinely be considered one of the best centre forwards outside the top flight. While his goalscoring talents have never been in doubt, his all round game has come on leaps and bounds in the last two years. There were a few nervy moments at the back on occasions however, especially for the opening goal when the defence was all over the place. We need to cut out the errors this Tuesday when West Ham travel to St Marys. The Hammers are the second top goalscorers in the division behind us, and are starting to find their feet in the Championship. Saints can't afford any mistakes if they want to maintain their 100% winning home start.
Attendance: 33,010 (2,611 Saints fans)
Davis: 6. Not troubled much after the goal
Richardson: 7. Not quite at the same level as previous weeks defensively, but offered a lot going forward
Fonte: 7. A shaky start, but improved massively as the game went on
Hooiveld: 7. Very solid. Good sliding tackles and long passing
Fox: 7. Looking better defensively.
Guly: 8. Great hold up play and control. Created a lot of opportunities.
Cork: 8. Constantly looking to get on the ball. Controlled much of the game, but was less effective after switching to right-back
Schneiderlin: 8. Great one touch passing was key for the team
Chaplow: 6. Got into some great positions, although his passing was hit and miss
Lambert: 8. Won everything in the air, got in dangerous positions and scored a great goal
Connolly: 8 Worked hard and movement was good. Made a lot of unselfish runs.
De Ridder: 7. Pace and skill added another attacking outlet
Hammond: 6. Solid, but not as effective as Cork had been earlier in the game.
Harding: Good to see him back