03/05/2014: Swansea 0-1 Saints
Saints - Lambert (90)
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Saints finished off a great season on the road with another away win. It was far from the most exciting display of the campaign, but the visitors did look solid as a defensive unit throughout. The only time Saints have achieved more points away from home in a top flight season was in 1983/84 in a 42 game season when the team finished runners up.
Saints started Morgan Schneiderlin, Jack Cork and Victor Wanyama in midfield for the first time. Cork operated in a more advanced role, behind the interchangeable front three of Adam Lallana, Steve Davis and Sam Gallagher. Some slack early play from Davis led to a good chance for Wilfried Bony, which was well saved by Artur Boruc. On 8 minutes the same player had a clear header go wide, with the visitors looking vulnerable at the back. Schneiderlin headed over from a Luke Shaw cross on 15 as Saints briefly took control of the game with some patient build-up play.
Both teams were well organised and fairly cautious in their approach. The game was played at a reasonably slow pace. Swansea looked more impressive on the counter, with most of Saints' chances arriving following prolonged spells of possession. On 20 minutes Dejan Lovren had a free-kick fly just over the bar. A few moments later Shaw fizzed a dangerous ball across goal. On 33 Gallagher came close following a good run and cross from Clyne down the right flank. Swansea immediately followed that up with a chance of their own, with Bony shooting over the bar.
Saints made a positive start to the 2nd half, with Lallana shooting low at Michel Vorm in the opening minute. The game then entered a bit of a lull, with neither team really exerting themselves to a great degree. On 65 minutes Davis cleared the bar from outside the area. Three minutes later Vorm easily gathered Schneiderlin's low drive. The final 20 dragged a bit, with both teams seemingly comfortable in playing out for a draw. That was until deep into stoppage time. Davis hooked the ball into the box ahead of the onrushing substitute Rickie Lambert. Ashley Williams sliced the ball into the air ahead of the England striker. It eventually came down just on the goal-line, with Lambert bundling it in just to be sure.
The game was perhaps only marginally more eventful than the bore draw at Villa Park a fortnight ago, but there was a feel-good factor within the away end which made it a lot more special for those in attendance. The last minute winner only added to the party atmosphere. Saints deserve credit for not completely switching off the way Newcastle did as soon as they got over the 40 point mark. It's been a fantastic season, and hopefully there is a lot more to come from this team.
Boruc: 6. Did everything that was asked of him, which wasn't that much to be fair, but did make one important stop early on
Clyne: 7. Not quite as spectacular as last week, but a solid outing nonetheless. Regularly broke forward and made some important tackles at the other end too
Fonte: 6. A few minor slip-ups, but also a couple of big challenges. Read the game well
Lovren: 6. One eye-catching headed interception towards the end of the game in an otherwise comfortable defensive display
Shaw: 6. Afforded plenty of space down the left-flank. Not troubled too much at the back
Wanyama: 7. A big presence in the centre of the park. Always trying to keep the ball moving quickly
Schneiderlin: 6. A fairly good box-to-box display
Cork: 6. Starting to lag a bit just prior to coming off, but still a good showing for the most part. As tactically astute as ever
Lallana: 6. Not involved in too many clear openings, but plenty of skill and energy as usual
Davis: 6. Final ball a bit of a let-down until the very end when he delivered the killer pass for the goal
Gallagher: 6. Pressed really well and got into good positions throughout the game
Lambert: 5. In where it mattered for the all-important winner
Ward-Prowse: Not involved too much
Reed: Kept it simple