Coventry City 1-2 Saints
F.A. Cup time used to mean a special effort to go to an away game. These days, it’s just as much an excuse to miss a home fixture, with Coventry advertising a conveniently round number of 9,000 spectators (it looked a lot less) for our third round tie.
Maybe the Sky Blues fans stayed at home because Saints were without Lambert (suspended), Fonte, Do Prado, DeRidder, Connolly (various levels of fitness doubts), Chaplow, Barnard (longer term injuries), Davis, Richardson (“rested”) and Tadanari Lee (not yet signed). More likely, the 7,366 net home attendance shows the level of dissatisfaction with the way their club has been run by our old friend Ken Dulieu and our near friends from SISU.
They would have been happy enough with the opening minutes, though, with O’ Donovan denied by Bialkowski (who would have been thankful for the chance to make a save) before McSheffrey found the net with a well taken volley amidst some ordinary defending. Bialkowski was the busier of the two keepers in a pretty dire game of football that left everyone grateful for the halftime whistle. Southampton’s somewhat spasmodic attacks had been led by Ryan Doble, who was reportedly offered at 100-1 for the first goal by concourse bookies who had never heard of him. A flutter on Jamie Ward-Prowse for the first Saints goal could also have attracted long odds, but would have paid off. Punters would have endured a frustrating moment just after the interval when W-P missed a golden chance – however, the youngster did get off the mark on 62 minutes with a close range finish from Lallana’s cross.
Saints had been performing far better after the turnaround, and from this moment onwards, they were in complete control – overall match stats of 61% possession for the away team must say something.
A draw would have meant another game of Lambert’s suspension falling outside the Championship programme, but Saints won after Martin‘s header from a corner squirmed under goalkeeper Dunn and just about had enough momentum to take it over the line. This was also Martin’s first goal for the club while substitutions gave debuts to Stephens and Hoskins.
LSSC Man of the Match: Jack Cork, who seems to have a lot of ‘old clubs” scattered around.
03 Harding (Stephens 87)
30 Ward-Prowse (Reeves 72)
29 Doble (Hoskins 59)