27/08/2011: Leicester 3-2 Saints

Southampton's 100% winning start came to an end today following a thrilling 3-2 defeat at Leicester. Saints were unlucky to come away empty handed from the King Power Stadium after dominating the second half. Leicester took the game to the visitors in the early stages and were ahead after just two minutes when Darius Vassell finished Paul Konchesky's cross. The Foxes overpowered us in the first fifteen minutes, and it looked like we could be on the end of a serious hiding. An unmarked Matt Mills had a powerful header well saved by Kelvin Davis not long after the goal. Just as Nigel Adkins's men were slowly getting themselves back into the groove, Leicester made it 2-0 when Richie Wellens hit an unstoppable shot from outside the area. Saints continued to improve as the half wore on, and deservedly reduced the deficit on 28 minutes when Dan Harding headed in from an excellent Adam Lallana cross. The pair linked up well all game. Things were looking good for the visitors until stoppage time when a Rickie Lambert own goal restored Leicester's two goal advantage. How the goal was ever allowed to stand I will never know. From where I was sitting it looked like a blatant push by Foxes defender Sol Bamba. There's no way Lambert would have headed it if he hadn't been put under pressure. In truth the referee was poor for us all afternoon. Every 50/50 decision went Leicester's way.

Morgan Schneiderlin replaced Frazer Richardson at half time, which meant Jack Cork moved to right back, a position he has played many times in the past. The change proved to be a stroke of genius, as it allowed us to push Leicester's wide players back. Cork offered a fresh attacking threat from the right, while nothing was lost in midfield, with Schneiderlin performing very well. Saints dominated a large portion of the second period, and grabbed their second goal after 53 minutes when David Connolly headed in at the far post from an Adam Lallana corner. The visitors seized the momentum after that and really piled on the pressure. Schneiderlin had a wild shot from outside the area blocked, while Connolly's low drive was well saved by Kasper Schmeichel. Leicester would rely on Schmeichel to keep them in it again in the last few minutes. When Adam Lallana went through one on one it looked like there would only be one result, but the Danish stopper made himself big and kept the ball out. For all Southampton's good play they couldn't find a way through in the end, with Leicester holding out for their first home win of the campaign.

We may have lost today, but there are plenty of positives we can take from the performance. Apart from the first ten or so minutes we played as well as we have all season. Leicester are without doubt one of the strongest teams in the division, and we more than matched them for much of the contest. A combination of poor refereeing, excellent goalkeeping and a bit of bad luck prevented us taking anything from the game. If we continue to perform like that throughout the season we will beat most teams. I felt we looked strong in all areas of the pitch today. Despite conceding three goals, the defence performed very well. Fonte and Seaborne limited Leicester's to mostly just long shots and set pieces. The few opportunities they did get were comfortably dealt with by Kelvin Davis. There's been much talk about bringing in a new centre half, but personally I'd be more than happy to stick with what we've got. Jack Cork has rightly received much praise in recent weeks, but Dean Hammond in my opinion has been just as important. The former Brighton man was one of our best performers today. I was sceptical about moving Cork to right back in the second half, but it was an inspired decision from Adkins. With Schnederlin in top form and Chaplow set to return from suspension, it's certainly something we can consider doing again if needed. De Ridder and Fox proved we have good options in reserve. If they keep this form up they will surely be in line for a place in the staring eleven soon.

Attendance: 23,808 (2,682 Saints fans)

Match Ratings:

Davis: 8. Shot stopping was top class today.

Richardson: 6. Not at the level of previous weeks, but still worked hard.

Fonte: 8. Proved today why he is one of the best defenders outside the top flight. Sliding tackle on Schlupp toward the end of the first half was perfectly timed.

Seaborne: 7. Made a number of crucial tackles and coped well with Leicester's front line. Only slight negative was he gave away a few free kicks in dangerous areas.

Harding: 7. Had a terrible first 10 minutes today, but recovered well and looked good going forward.

Guly: 6. Not as influential as usual, but still had his moments.

Hammond: 8. Driving force in midfield today. Passing was top notch.

Cork: 7. Gave us another attacking outlet from right back in the second half.

Lallana: 8. Creativity opened up a number of opportunities. Unlucky not to score.

Connolly: 7. Worked tirelessly as ever. Yet again there where in mattered for the goal.

Lambert: 6. Struggled to get in the game as much as he would have liked. Unlucky with the own goal.


Schneiderlin: 7. A more than adequate replacement in midfield for Cork. At the heart of a number of good attacking moves.

De Ridder: 7. Running troubled the tired Leicester defenders.

Fox: 7. Put in some great crosses as Saints piled on the pressure towards the end.