Saints secured a record seventh league win in a row with a convincing display over Leeds today. It's the first time the club has won on the opening day since 1999, and the first at home since 1988. In truth the result never looked in doubt after Dean Hammond gave Nigel Adkins side the lead after 10 minutes with a low drive from outside the box. Saints doubled their advantage on 25 minutes through Adam Lallana, who turned a Leeds defender before curling a shot from an acute angle into the corner of the net. The hosts were unlucky not to be further ahead before the break. Guly skilfully set up Lallana, who had his shot well saved by Andy Lonergan, and Rickie Lambert went close with a free kick. The only good thing about Leeds was their fans, who continued to outsing the home supporters even at 2-0 down. St Marys finally came alive after David Connolly made it 3-0 following a one-two with Lallana. Saints continued to push for further goals which ultimately never came. Aaron Martin came agonisingly close with a header that went narrowly over the bar, before Richard Chaplow hit the post from distance. Leeds were awarded a penalty in the final seconds after the referee blew for a handball by Martin. Max Gradel, who was the visitors best player, sent Kelvin Davis the wrong way to make the final score 3-1.
A fantastic start to the season and superb team performance. Many fans have complained all summer about the lack of transfer activity, but today proved that the squad is more than good enough to compete at this level. As far as I'm concerned we have nothing to fear about the campaign ahead. We are just as good if not better than the majority of teams in this division. How many other Championship sides have the options that we have in midfield? Jack Cork already looks a class act and is my early tip to win player of the season. Adam Lallana was his usual brilliant self too, while Arsenal target Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain wasn't even playing. Up front David Connolly looked as deadly as ever. If he can stay fit, and it's a big if, then he could be a huge player for us. You only have to listen to Lallana's recent comments about the striker to hear how respected he is at the club. Other players could certainly learn from him. More than any individual performance though I was impressed with how we worked together as a unit and how fit we looked. These are things we've lacked in the past, but Nigel Adkins has instilled a winning mentality that hasn't been there for a long time.
I hate to talk about anything negative after such an enjoyable display, but I will say that I didn't feel completely at ease with Martin and Harding at the back today. Both players committed a few individual errors, which luckily Leeds failed to capitalise on. I was surprised Seaborne didn't start alongside Fonte in the middle. The former Exeter man has looked impressive in pre season, so unless he's injured, I'm not quite sure why Adkins elected to pick Martin ahead of him. I hope this doesn't come across as a knock on the kid, because I'm a fan, but he's still got some improving to do before he's ready to start every week in my opinion. I must also comment on the ludicrous decision to reduce the number of substitutes from seven to five. I can't for the life of me understand why clubs voted for the change. Seven subs allow you to cover most positions, but five leaves you limited. Today we had no recognised centre back or striker in reserve. The new rule certainly doesn't benefit clubs like us who have strength in depth.
Attendance: 25,860 (3,097 Leeds fans)
Davis: 7. Had a reasonably quiet evening, but did his job well when called upon
Richardson: 6. Coped fairly well with the tricky Gradel, putting in a commited display
Fonte: 7. Solid as always. Didn't put a foot wrong the entire match
Martin: 6. Looked very shaky at the start, and made a few mistakes that could have cost us on another day. Improved as the game went on however, and unlucky not to score. Penalty given against him was harsh.
Harding: 5. A weak link for us today. Might have been in trouble had Leeds threatened more. A misplaced pass early in the second half could have cost us.
Guly: 7. Trickery caused the opposition problems and he created plenty of space for teammates.
Hammond: 7. Scored a terrific goal and worked well alongside new midfield partner Cork
Cork: 8. Very comfortable on the ball, he makes it all seem so effortless. Already looking like a top signing.
Lallana: 8. Continued from where he left off last season. Scored one, set up another, could have had a second. A constant threat.
Connolly: 7. Worked hard and deserved his goal, which was typically finished beautifully.
Lambert: 7. Provided the assist for Lallana's goal. Came close with a free kick.
De Ridder: 6. Not quite as eye-catching today as he was against West Brom, but still a very productive performance. Won a number of corners.
Chaplow: 6. Looked more like the Chaplow from last winter, rather than the out of form Chaplow from the end of the previous campaign. Close to scoring near the end.
Schneiderlin: 6. Strong in possession as you’d expect.