17/11/2012: QPR 1-3 Saints

Saints secured their first away win of the season, with a convincing display against QPR. The visiting side dominated the majority of the match and were well worthy of their victory. Saints remain in 19th position, but are now just a point below the safety zone.

Nigel Adkins started with the same team and formation that lined up against Swansea last week. Saints were on top early on, enjoying some good interchanges in the final third. Adam Lallana had the first major effort, firing just over from a volley, following a neat Gaston Ramirez flick. Moments later Jason Puncheon's deep cross evaded everyone before bouncing out off the post. QPR came into it a bit more after the 15 minute mark, but were unable to create too many decent openings against a solid backline. Adel Taarabt had a low drive comfortably gathered by Paulo Gazzaniga. A few minutes later Junior Hoilett had his curling effort tipped past the post by Gazzaniga.

Saints had a number of opportunities to hit Rangers on the counter, but were too slow and indecisive on the ball. The visitors continued to dominate possession however. On 21 minutes Lallana's cross rolled along the six-yard box, before being cleared out for a corner by Ryan Nelsen. The resulting set-piece was deflected behind for a second corner. This time Saints made no mistake. The ball was headed across the box a few times before it made its way to Ramirez. The Uruguayan cut the ball back from the right for Jose Fonte, who had his shot deflected into the path of Puncheon. Anton Ferdinand cleared off of the line, before Lambert headed in for 1-0. It was fairly comfortable for the away side until the break. Adkins' men defended as a unit and limited QPR to just a few long range efforts. Jason Puncheon gave Saints a bit of a cushion just before half-time, turning his body before planting the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

QPR started the second half well, and pulled a goal back within the first three minutes. Junior Hoillet headed in from close range, with Gazzaniga misjudging the flight of the ball. Saints responded brilliantly to the setback, and regained control immediately after the goal. The team was involved in some great attacking interplay. Puncheon was at the heart of a number of chances. He fired wide on two separate occasions within a minute, before testing Julio Cesar with a stinging effort. While there was only one goal in it, QPR were still in with a shout however. They had a few opportunities every now and then. Djibril Cisse had a curling effort fly past the post. Ryan Nelsen then powered a header straight into the arms of Gazzaniga. Saints looked the more likely throughout, though. Steven Davis' introduction severely limited QPR as an attacking threat. Maya Yoshida had a bicycle kick tipped past the post in the final 10 minutes. Saints then wrapped it up on 83. A well worked short corner between Puncheon and Morgan Schneiderlin resulted in the ball being played across goal, with Ferdinand putting through his own net for 3-1. Saints could have easily added to the scoring in the final few minutes against a dismal Rangers outfit.

A much needed win and a fantastic display. Saints dominated from start to finish in every area of the pitch. Defensively we are looking as solid as we have all season. Jack Cork has added some much needed protection to the back four in the last two outings, but the back four have improved considerably too. Yoshida and Fonte look to have the makings of a decent centre back partnership. At the other end Puncheon was outstanding, while Lallana was back to his best. There's a lot to take into the next few matches. Providing Saints stay injury free, we should be in line for a few more points in the near future. If nothing else the win should give the team plenty of confidence. You could tell how much it meant to everyone today. Even the substitutes were kicking every ball.

Attendance: 18,174 (3,203 Saints fans)

Match Ratings:

Gazzaniga: 7. Poor decision making for the QPR goal, but otherwise fairly solid. Decent handling.

Clyne: 8. A class act yet again. Strong in the tackle at the back, and great link-up play going forward.

Fonte: 8. Took a safety first approach in possession. Defensively very sound

Yoshida: 8. Probably his most impressive showing in a Saints shirt to date. Timing largely impeccable.

Shaw: 8. Much improved today, a very mature performance. Gave as good as he got against a physical QPR side and also worked well going forward

Cork: 8. Composed on the ball as always, gives the team a whole different dimension

Schneiderlin: 8. Made one first half mistake that led to a Granero chance, but otherwise very good. Kept Taarabt fairly quiet

Puncheon: 8. Tore through the QPR backline on a number of occasions. Unlucky not to score more goals

Lallana: 8. Gave Bosingwa a torrid time, always looked threatening going forward

Ramirez: 7. Bright early on, with some good one touch play. Ran into trouble a bit more in the second half. Looked like he might he picked up a slight knock before coming off

Lambert: 7. Scored a much needed goal and got involved with a lot of gritty work. Was constantly being fouled, receiving little protection from the referee

Substitutes:

Davis: 7. Helped Saints kill off the game, very intelligent display

Fox: 6. Continued where Shaw had left off

Rodriguez: Held the ball up well in a brief cameo