Stevenage 1-4 Saints
Saints are through to the 3rd round of the League Cup, following a 4-1 win over League 1 outfit Stevenage.
Saints struggled to keep hold of the ball during the first half, and looked poor throughout. Nigel Adkins made eleven changes to the side that lost to Wigan on Saturday. Kelvin Davis was the only starter who travelled, and he was only there to sit on the bench. Adkins stuck with a 4-2-3-1, using a mixture of fringe players and youngsters. Jake Sinclair made his first appearance in the senior side on the bench.
As bad as Saints were in the first period, they could have very well taken an early lead, were it not for a slightly dubious offside decision. Billy Sharp finished James Ward-Prowse's brilliantly through ball, only to see his effort disallowed. The home side were quick to close down and limit space in the first half, which made for a dreadful spectacle. Stevenage had much the better of the chances early on, rattling Paulo Gazzaniga's crossbar. The Southampton defence weren't on the same page at first, and the passing from the entire team was very lacklustre. Saints did improve slightly before the break, mustering up a few half chances. Danny Butterfield connected with a low shot which went wide of the post.
Saints came out much improved after the break, and controlled the second half. The visitors stretched the play, using greater width, with full-backs Butterfield and Luke Shaw breaking forward with greater effect. Saints took a deserved lead on 52 minutes through Tadanari Lee. The Japanese striker converted Sharp's cross on his first game back, following good work from Puncheon in the build up. Saints found their rhythm after that goal, showcasing some decent football. On 74 minutes the game was put to bed. Stevenage gave away a free-kick inside the area when Chris Day picked up a back-pass. Quick-thinking Richard Chaplow cut the ball across goal for Sharp, who made space for himself before firing into the back of the net. Two minutes later Jason Puncheon produced a sublime piece of skill to make it 3-0. The midfielder flicked the ball up, before connecting with a dipping volley, which flew into the corner of the net. Substitute Sam Hoskins was desperately unlucky not to add a fourth when he twisted and turned on the edge of the area, before smashing just wide. Stevenage pulled a goal back through Michael Thalassitis, but by then the game was well out of reach. Ben Reeves capped an impressive second half display from the visitors, with a fine effort from outside of the area on 90.
A decent run-out for Adkins' boys. Tadanari Lee looked sharp, and could very well be close to a first team comeback. He would be a welcome addition and offer us something different going forward. Elsewhere the youngsters did very well once again. Ward-Prowse stood out as usual, with Reeves and Hoskins also providing some moments of magic. Overall a very enjoyable night for Saints fans.
Day, Gray, Charles, Ashton, Tansey (Grant 67), Dunne, Haber (Thalassitis 84), Adkins, Roberts, Freeman, Rogers (Shroot 63). Subs (not used): Arnold, Furlonge, Ball, N'Gala
Gazzaniga; Butterfield, Richardson, Seaborne, Shaw; Hammond (Chambers 84), Ward-Prowse; Puncheon, Chaplow (Reeves 77), Lee, Sharp (Hoskins 84). Subs (not used): K Davis, Stephens, Sinclair, Moore.