Saints crashed out of the League Cup, following a dismal 3-0 defeat at Leeds. Nigel Adkins' men were poor throughout and offered little in the way of positives.
Adkins rested all eleven players that started against Tottenham on Sunday. Kelvin Davis made a welcome return in goal, in front of a back four of Danny Butterfield, Jos Hooiveld, Dan Seaborne and Ben Reeves. James Ward-Prowse played in the holding role, with Guly Do Prado and Richard Chaplow through the middle. Emmanuel Mayuka started as the lone front-man, with Steve De Ridder and Tadanari Lee out wide.
Saints were poor throughout the first half. From the beginning the defence played far too many long balls, handing the initiative to Leeds. Saints did just about edge the possession count in the first 20 minutes, but failed to create a single meaningful chance. The movement was far too static, and the passing was slow and predictable. Leeds really should have been ahead on 14 minutes when the ball rolled across the six yard box. Luke Varney somehow contrived to toe-poke his effort wide. It was one of the most hilarious misses ever seen. Leeds came into the game more as the half wore on. On 24 minutes Luke Varney beat his man on the edge of the area before curling a shot just past the post. Moments later Varney hit the bar, capitalising on a Seaborne mistake. On 34 minutes Rodolph Austin headed just wide. A minute later Leeds were ahead. Michael Tonge fired a low shot past a number of bodies into the bottom corner from just outside the box.
Saints failed to improve at the start of the second half, lacking in urgency and imagination. The visitors had a few opportunities to hit Leeds on the break, but saw every move break-down. On 59 minutes El Hadji Diouf came close to making it 2-0, shooting just wide. Saints improved slightly with the introduction of Luke Shaw and Lloyd Isgrove. Shaw filled in at left-back, with Reeves moving to a more advanced role. Isgrove was deployed on the right-wing. The youngsters added a bit more of a spark to the attack. On 69 minutes a decent piece of play resulted in Reeves crossing for Mayuka, who had his shot blocked. That was as good as it got however. Leeds never looked like conceding, and wrapped up the tie on 88 minutes. The impressive Diouf tapped in after Austin had his shot pushed away by Davis. Luciano Becchio rubbed salt into the wounds in stoppage time with a penalty, after Shaw had fouled Tonge in the box.
The only conclusions worth drawing from this game is that many of the fringe players who having been knocking on Adkins' door need to do a lot more if they want to force their way into the team. It was a terrible showing, but the overall picture is still the same as it was after the Tottenham game. Adkins put out a mish-mash side of players that needed games. That team will almost certainly never play together again. Some will struggle for a place on the bench. The only positive was Lloyd Isgrove, who had a very good debut.
Davis: 6 Couldn't repeat his previous Elland Road heroics, but did ok. Pulled off a couple of decent stops. Kicking a bit hit and miss.
Butterfield: 6. Put in a few crosses, but understandably quite rusty
Seaborne: 4. Abysmal display, barely put a foot right. Gave away a number of needless fouls, also made a few defensive errors
Hooiveld: 6. Still nowhere near the level of last season
Reeves: 6. Reasonably solid display. Looked much better when he moved further forward
Ward-Prowse: 6. Tidy in possession, but no real defence splitting passes
Chaplow: 6. A few good runs and tackles, but overall disappointing. Passing wasn't great
Guly: 6. Decent on the ball, without unlocking the defence
De Ridder: 5. Did his cause no good whatsoever. Far too predictable with his runs, gave the ball away a fair few times
Lee: 5. None of the usual energy you would expect, barely got a kick. Didn't look anywhere near match-fit.
Mayuka: 6. A difficult one to assess. Did hold the ball up well, but didn't do a lot else with the ball. Wasn't helped by the poor service
Isgrove: 6. Probably the only bright spot. Debutant added a lot more energy to the side, opening up space with some decent one-touch football
Shaw: 5. Introduction gave Saints a little bit more balance