Saints 4-0 Coventry City
It wasn’t quite supposed to be like this. Firstly it was supposed to be sunny; also, a 3pm start, a healthy goal difference actually making promotion a formality, and having the Championship itself up for grabs would have been nice too. On the other hand, at the start of a season when the ambition of many of us was just to finish top team in Hampshire, seeing the prize of Premier League football available for beating an already relegated team at home on a dull April lunchtime was the stuff of wild dreams – and two years ahead of the Liebherr master plan.
Had Coventry taken advantage of a shaky opening by Saints, and had West Ham taken the initiative with an early goal in their game, things might have been scary for a while. But with no developments at Upton Park and with 15 minutes on the clock, Fonte embarked on a forceful run from the back and Lallana was on hand to strike Do Prado’s short pass towards goal – in fact, thanks to the all-seeing eye of the TV cameras, we now know that it was a touch by Sharp that finally took the ball past Murphy.
Cov. are at the bottom for a good reason, and that was demonstrated soon afterwards when poor marking let Fonte get in a firm downward header from a corner, with the bounce somehow taking the ball into the top corner for Jose’s only goal of the campaign. The game was effectively over, and the Sky Blues were surely beaten even before their best player, McSheffrey, limped out of it – as did Hammond soon afterwards. Lallana shaped to make it three by the break, only to be blocked at close range, but no-one was wondering what the outcome might be during a happy half time.
Saints actually had to wait until the hour for their third, scored by Hooiveld after some ineffective attempts to clear a corner: many of the big defender’s goals have been crucial, but this wasn’t one of them. Again fans didn’t have to wait long for another chance to cheer, as Lallana hammered the ball into the roof of the net from the corner of the six yard box. Saints indulged themselves by passing the ball around for fun as the clock ran down towards a premature whistle from referee Taylor, presumably once he was in sprinting distance of the tunnel.
How the players made it off the pitch is a mystery as a mass invasion started immediately, and Lambert was last seen on the shoulders of a sea of humanity. Plans for a lap of honour were always optimistic, but I can do without that; these gatherings on the sacred turf at the end of a successful season are something I can easily get used to instead.
LSSC Man of the Match: Guly DoPrado, with his best performance for quite a while.