Rickie double sets up Saints romp
Bristol Rovers 1, Saints 5
Saints kept an unchanged starting line-up for the visit to Bristol Rovers, possibly based on the damage that Antonio had done to the home team in this season’s F.A. Cup tie.
They certainly produced a lively opening and were only denied an early goal by some desperate saves & defending and some unlucky finishing. It was, of course, the sort of start that often results in a goal for the opposition from their first attack. Things didn’t quite work out like that, but it was against the run of play when Hughes gave Rovers the lead from the penalty spot after Fonte had tangled with Kuffour: this didn’t look a foul at the time and it still doesn’t with the hindsight of T.V. replays.
Kuffour might have doubled that lead but his shot rebounded off the bar, while Saints continued to press hard at the other end. Hammond missed the best opportunity when he put a header wide, but Lambert showed him how by converting a short corner routine. In fact Lambert turned the game on its head by scoring again in the couple of minutes before half time when he produced his customary clean strike of a long-distance free kick. The ball pitched just in front of goalkeeper Andersen who then looked as bemused as a tailender facing Shane Warne while it flew off the pitch and into the net.
It would have been a happy half time dressing room, and Saints continued their good work as they attacked up the slope. A third goal came from a dipping volley, but we had to take a moment to confirm that the unlikely scorer was Schneiderlin. Southampton then worked the ball nicely on the right before switching play for Lallana to score number four from the opposite flank, and finally Puncheon cut inside to fire home a fifth goal.
Saints had given the Gas-heads a footballing lesson and were able to substitute all three of their dominant attackers, Lambert, Puncheon and Antonio, before the end.
LSSC Man of the Match: Jason Puncheon, although Lambert’s brace came at an opportune time.
04 Puncheon (Papa Waigo 76)
37 Antonio (Connolly 81)
07 Lambert (Barnard 79)