Saints progressed to the 4th round of the League Cup, comfortably seeing off Sheffield Wednesday. Adkins made nine changes to the starting line-up that beat Villa on Saturday. Paulo Gazzaniga kept his place in goal, while Maya Yoshida also started his second consecutive game. Jack Cork made a welcome return in front of the back four. He sat and dictated play, while his midfield partner James Ward-Prowse moved about the pitch. Richard Chaplow, Guly Do Prado and Steve De Ridder lined up right to left behind Jay Rodriguez.
Saints dominated possession throughout, with Wednesday on the back foot from the word go. The Owls sat back and allowed the hosts room to manoeuvre in midfield. Wednesday only surrounded their opponents when they got within shooting distance. Saints took a while to break a very defensive side down, but played some decent stuff all the while. The lack of atmosphere inside the ground meant the game felt less exciting than it was.
Rodriguez was involved in some good early chances. He fired a low shot straight at Steven Bywater, after being put through by Cork. Rodriguez also had a header go wide from a De Ridder cross. Wednesday did occasionally threaten on the break, but were utterly wasteful in front of goal. Former Saint Michail Antonio had a great chance to open the scoring, but he missed his one-on-one with Gazzaniga, chipping the ball just over the bar. Saints always looked the more likely however, and on 30 minutes they broke the deadlock. Rodriguez collected Chaplow's pass, brilliantly turning before firing past Bywater. Saints dominated the final 15 minutes of the half. Wednesday were a lot more open, allowing Adkins' side to find gaps in defence. Guly hit the post just before half time.
Wednesday had a few decent efforts in the second half, but Saints remained in control for the most part. Slovenian Nejc Pecnik was involved in a few chances. He struck powerful volley just over the bar not long after the restart. Moments later he latched on to a perfectly weighted through-ball from Chris Maguire, before having his shot tipped round the post by Gazzaniga. Saints continued to stroke the ball around well, but could afford to play with less intensity than usual. Cork and Ward-Prowse were particularly key in ensuring the home side dominated possession. The chances dried up until 78 minutes. Wednesday full-back Joe Mattock got himself tangled up with De Ridder, bringing the Belgian down just inside the box. Rodriguez's penalty just about squirmed under Bywater into the back of the net. Adkins threw on youngsters Ben Reeves, Andy Robinson and Sam Hoskins during the final few minutes. Unfortunately Cork was forced off injured after getting his studs stuck in the turf. Wednesday finished the game strongly, testing Gazzaniga with a stinging effort in stoppage time.
A pretty comfortable evening. A second-string Saints side saw off a decent Championship outfit with ease. It goes to show we have got plenty of depth within the squad, although I don't think any of the fringe players on show did enough to warrant a regular starting spot. Nevertheless it was good to see a few old faces like Chaplow and De Ridder get a run-out. With a few big sides already dropping out of this competition, we have a genuine chance of progressing to the latter stages. We could afford to rest most of our star performers tonight, but if we're drawn against Premier League opposition, hopefully we'll take it seriously and name a full strength team.
Attendance: 9,980 (698 Sheffield Wednesday fans)
Gazzaniga: 7. A few shaky moments early on. Distribution a bit dodgy in the first half, but made up for it with a string of good late saves
Richardson: 7. Looking more like the Frazer from the first half of last season. Looked threatening going forward
Hooiveld: 7. Didn't do a lot wrong. Solid showing
Yoshida: 7. Looked comfortable on the ball. Decent reading of the game too
Seaborne: 7. Not really tested defensively, but tidy in possession
Cork: 8. A very good return. Great range of passing, always found a Saints shirt. Hopefully his injury isn't too bad
Ward-Prowse: 8. Always showing for the ball, terrific distribution
Chaplow: 7. Constantly got himself in good positions, with some decent skill
Guly: 7. Involved in a number of decent moves in the first half, with a few efforts on goal. Looked to have picked a slight knock, which affected his performance in the second
De Ridder: 7. Some decent running, without much end-product until the very end. Did well in winning the penalty
Rodriguez: 7. Did brilliantly to create an opening for the first goal. Movement decent
Reeves: 6. Added a little bit of energy
Robinson: Saints debutant only touched the ball a couple of times in the final few minutes
Hoskins: Didnít really have enough time to make an impact