24/09/2013: Saints 2-0 Bristol City
Saints strolled to the 4th round of the League Cup with a competent display over League One side Bristol City. The hosts dominated possession during the first half, but struggled at times in the second, with City creating plenty of chances. The low crowd and poor atmosphere made the game seem even duller than it actually was.
Pochettino made eleven changes to the side that won at Anfield. Jack Cork and Steven Davis started just in front of the back four. James Ward-Prowse was tucked in on the right, with Guly Do Prado in a more advanced role on the other side. Gaston Ramirez was deployed behind front-man Tadanari Lee.
Saints dominated the first half, having complete control of the ball without creating too many clear cut chances. Bristol City attempted to play good football on the rare occasions they did manage to retrieve possession. The visitors had just started to get into the game prior to Saints' opener. Maya Yoshida floated a long ball over the top for Lee. The Japanese striker played in Ward-Prowse, who had his initial effort blocked. The ball then came out to Ramirez, who blasted an unstoppable volley into the roof of the net. Saints continued to build patiently, and it seemed only a matter of time before they would increase their lead. Lee brilliantly created a chance for himself, before having his shot saved by the keeper. Guly was then put through in the box, only to fluff his opportunity. Cork and Ramirez had further chances before the half-time whistle.
Bristol City were much improved in the second-half, taking advantage of a complacent and lethargic Saints side. The hosts struggled to string more than a couple of passes together, with City on the attack for much of the 45. Having said that, as poor as Saints were, you still had the feeling that they were always going to pull through, even if City could find an equaliser. Kelvin Davis had to be at his best during the second half. He made a superb save early on from a Joe Bryan. City threatened on the counter, and flashed a series of dangerous balls across the box, which narrowly missed their intended targets. The away side continued to press until the 83 minute when Hooiveld headed in from a Ward-Prowse corner. Saints did well to close out the game after that, and had a few more half-chances before the end.
Hardly one for the ages. Saints' performance was passable, but the important thing is we got the job done. It's rarely easy playing with a completely fresh team, so we shouldn't grumble too much. We were able to rest everyone who started at Liverpool and give some fringe players and youngsters some much needed playing time. It will be interesting to see what type of team Pochettino puts out in the next round. There's a good chance we'll be coming up against another Premier League team, or at least a strong Championship outfit, so we'll need to raise our game significantly if we want to progress even further.
Davis: 7. Kicking slightly suspect at times, but made a few decent saves when the game was still not out of reach
Chambers: 6. Steady, nothing else
Yoshida: 7. Made it look easy. Nearly always a step ahead of his opponents
Hooiveld: 7. A few nice runs out from the back and a standard Tuesday night goal
Fox: 6. A pretty easy game for the full-back. Rarely troubled defensively and good on the ball
Cork: 7. Most intelligent player on the park. Controlled the game in the first half, always knew where to be
Davis: 6. Significant drop off in the 2nd half, but overall reasonably good
Ward-Prowse: 6. Didn't see as much as the ball as he would have wanted on the right, but solid enough
Ramirez: 6. Blew hot and cold, but technically way ahead of anyone else on the pitch. Superb goal
Guly: 5. Some decent movement early on, but wasteful on the ball and poor end product
Lee: 6. Looked sharp in the early going, but lack of match practise caught up to him later on
Reed: 6. Injected a bit of energy into proceedings
Rodriguez: 6. Made a few dangerous runs towards the end
Rowe: Not really on long enough to make a proper impression
Saints - Ramirez (15) Hooiveld (83)
Attendance: 8,539 (531 Bristol City fans)
Referee: Graham Scott
Saints: K Davis, Chambers, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Fox, Cork, S Davis (Rowe 87), Ramirez, Ward-Prowse, Guly (Reed 73), Lee (Rodriguez 73)
Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Lallana, McCarthy, Targett
Bristol City: Parish, Moloney, Flint, Williams, Shorey, Pack, Reid (Baldock 84), Bryan (Harewood 70), McLaughlin, Wagstaff (Kilkenny 76), Emmanuel-Thomas
Subsn not used: Fielding, Cunningham, Brundle, Burns