Championship Football – The Saints march into the Premiership
In the final weekend of the Npower Championship Southampton needed a win to secure promotion to the Premier League over rivals West Ham who were waiting in the wings for a slip up. However, West Ham were disappointed as Southampton won in empathatic style, cruising to a 4-0 victory over relegated Coventry City
The game took place at St Mary’s in front of a club record crowd of 32,363 who came to celebrate a season in which Southampton haven’t dropped out of the automatic promotion places. Coventry on the other hand have suffered a torrid campaign with much of their team injured and with relegation confirmed last weekend due to a loss against Doncaster Rovers, it looks as though it is going to get worse before it gets better for Coventry.
The game started quickly with a chance within the first minute for Sharp, but he could only hook the ball over the cross bar. However, it was Coventry who had the better of the opening exchanges forcing Davis into a couple of good saves.
Southampton though were the first to strike after a surging run from centre back, Fonte who set up a cross to Lallane on the edge of the box who struck the ball hard towards goal for Billy Sharp to get a crucial touch to take it away from the Coventry keeper. After the opener it was all Southampton and you felt every time Southampton had possession there could be a goal. The second goal came only two minutes after the first in the form of a diving header by Fonte who was unmarked from a corner.
Coventry tried to work themselves back into the match in the first half with some nice one touch football in the middle of the park, however they never really created any decent chances.
In the second half Southampton started the better of the two teams by maintaining possession and creating chances. The third goal came from a poor corner, which was driven low into the box and should have been dealt with better. The cross led to a scramble and Billy Sharp eventually powered the ball into the back of the net with a left footed shot on the turn.
Another goal followed a couple of minutes later, as the Saints looked to secure promotion in style. A long ball was headed down across the goal by the target man, Lambert for Lallana to hit home from short range. The situation got worse for Coventry who have been plagued with injury problems all season when central defender Willis, making his debut for the club, left the field with what looked like a hamstring problem. This added to the loss of their captain in the first half.
In the final twenty minutes the game fizzled out, as Southampton sought to control the game and prevent any sort of comeback from Coventry.
As the final whistle went the crowd exploded onto the pitch contrary to announcements pleading with fans to stay in their seats. However this is a club who have endured more than most in the last seven years having faced administration and the relegation to League one, but the Saints have fought back under the Adkin’s diet of disciplined and attractive football. Most importantly for Southampton they have the money, the stadium, the fans and backroom infrastructure to stay in the Premier league for more than just a single season and I’m sure everybody involved in the club can’t wait.