Saturday, 28th April 2012
Referee : Taylor
Attendance : 32,363
Southampton v Coventry
Saints are a Premier League Club again!
It seemed hardly credible in the dark days of administration, after one lot of pathetically, unlikely, potential groups after another looked to take Saints over. Looking at Pompey now, as they go the other way out of the Championship (Bye-bye!), all I can think of is that there but for the grace of God go we. Oh yes, we did didn't we!
Out of the gloom came the Swiss, Marcus Leibherr and Nicola Cortese, about whom we knew nothing. With the minimum of fuss the creditors were paid off (Aviva apparently accepting a vastly reduced amount on total settlement of the stadium mortgage) and the deal was done.
There was a much touted five year plan to get Saints back to the Premiership, which many thought was a bit far fetched, given the condition the club was in. Alan Pardew was brought in as manager and away we went in the First Division with a ten point penalty.
At the end of the third season Saints have reached the Premier League, but unfortunately Marcus is not here to see the celebrations, having sadly passed away on 10th August 2010. It was however, noticeable on Saturday that there were many Swiss flags and messages in evidence around the ground. Gone but definitely not forgotten.
At the beginning of last season Pardew was sacked, which came as a bolt from the blue. After a fairly lengthy period Nigel Adkins was hired and he came in at a time when Saints were languishing around the bottom of the First Division. Less than two full seasons later he has managed the team right into the Premier League.
Going into the final day of the season Saints were two points ahead of West Ham and it was still possible for them to pip Saints to the automatic promotion spot if they won and Saints lost. There were other permutations if West Ham won and Saints drew, but essentially, if Saints won, then it did not matter a jot what West Ham did.
So, we all duly turned up for the 12.30pm kick off and St.Mary's was packed to the rafters with noisy, boisterous, expectant fans. For the first quarter of an hour or so, Saints were rather nervous and Coventry had a couple of reasonable chances to score.
Then Jose Fonte took the ball deep in Saints half and avoiding several challenges, lumbered (to be fair he does look very ungainly when running!) towards the Coventry penalty area and passed it to Guly, who was totally unmarked on the right. Lallana was now unmarked in the middle and was waving his hands in the air, trying to attract Guly's attention. Guly looked up and put a perfectly weighted cross in front of Lallana, who gratefully ran on to it and lashed the ball goalwards. Murphy, in the Coventry goal looked as though he had it covered, but on it's way to him Billy Sharp got the smallest of touches on the ball and that was enough to put it beyond Murphy's reach.
1-0 and St.Mary's went absolutely ballistic. I think it was probably relief as much as anything.
The team visibly relaxed and within three minutes it was 2-0, as Fonte headed a Fox corner kick into the ground and over the head of the defending Coventry player on the goal line..
Still the young Coventry side would not give up and halftime came with no further scoring.
Saints were clearly controlling the game and it seemed only a matter of time before they found the net again. Barely a quarter of an hour into the second half, The ball was pinging around the Coventry goalmouth and a Billy Sharp shot was blocked, but it then fell to Jos Hooiveld, who hooked the ball home. 3-0. Party Time.
Three minutes later delirium, as again the ball bounced around the penalty area and this time it was Lallana that scored.
The rest of the game was academic and full time came, with the ref adding just two minutes. We didn't even manage that much, as he could see the fans streaming down the steps from the back of the stands towards the pitch. When he gave up and blew the whistle many of the players failed to make it back to the tunnel before the fans and got lost in the mêlée of celebration.
Wonderful. 'We are Southampton we're Premier League'
14 Hammond (Cork - 37' )
20 Lallana (Puncheon - 82' )
11 Sharp (De Ridder - 76' )
33 De Ridder
37 Willis (Henderson - 72' )
34 Bigirimana (Jeffers - 46' )
11 McSheffrey (Roberts - 34' )