Saints overpower poor Burnley

Southampton finally got their first home win of 2012 with a dominant performance over a poor Burnley side at St Mary’s.

Southampton finally got their first home win of 2012 with a dominant performance over a poor Burnley side at St Mary’s.

Saints were looking to reinvigorate their season with a win following poor form which had seen a 5 point gap over West Ham at the top of the table turn into a 4 point deficit.

With practically all players back from injury, Adkins named possibly his strongest line up of the season, with new signing Billy Sharp making his full home debut up front with Rickie Lambert in a 4-4-2 formation.

Burnley came to St Mary’s with the best away record in the Championship, and had Jay Rodriguez, their highly coveted striker, starting up front, with the Southampton faithful keen to see what they had missed out on following rejected bids in the summer.

It took only 7 minutes before Adam Lallana opened the scoring. Frazer Richardson did well on the right flank, beating his man and whipping a good cross in from the byline, which Lallana glanced into the far corner, beyond the reach of Burnley keeper Lee Grant.

Saints almost doubled their lead only minutes later, with Lambert having a powerful shot from the edge of the box tipped around the post. Sharp then tested Grant from a tight angle following a delicious ball played over the top from Jack Cork.

Burnley then had their only shot on target the whole game, whith a Treacy strike from 25 yards being well saved and held by Kelvin Davis.

Sharp then opened his account for the club with a flick from a Lambert cross. The ball hit Burnley’s Ben Mee before dribbling over the line with Grant watching helplessly, but Sharp will claim it.

Burnley boss Eddie Howe changed things around at the break in an attempt to get them back into the game and give the thousand strong travelling contingent something to cheer, bringing on Bartley and McQuoid for Marney and Treacy.

The changes, most likely along with the half time hairdryer treatment, seemed to have brought a new vigour to Burnley’s attacking play. For the first 15 minutes of the second half the Saints penalty box was bombarded with high balls. However, Fonte and Hooiveld were dominant in the air and dealt well with the threat, with the only half chance falling to McQuoid, who missed his kick and following a scramble the ball was collected by Davis.

This was to be the end of Burnley in an attacking sense, with Saints dominating possession and territory for the last 30 minutes. Connolly was brought on for Sharp to help link the midfield to the forward line and it almost paid dividends, with two good chances being missed and a goal disallowed within 10 minutes of his introduction.

Cork, marauding forward from midfield, was played in down the flank by Lambert, and turned in a good ball to Lallana, who could only shoot straight at Grant, with the rebound being cleared.

Connolly then had a chance from an almost identical position, Lambert beating the full back before crossing for Connolly, who could only turn the ball wide of the near post.

When a 25 yard Lambert volley was fumbled by Grant, Connolly was quickest to react, stabbing it past the keeper, only to have his celebrations cut short by the linesman’s flag.

With Stuart Pearce in the stands on scouting duty for the Olympics this summer, he would have surely been impressed by the superb performances of Cork and Lallana, both of whom meet the criteria of being under 23 and British.

Southampton can now look forward to their Valentines’ Day game at Upton Park. With West Ham’s game at Peterborough postponed, Saints have the opportunity to go back to the top of the table with a win, and will be hoping for a repeat performance of their 1-0 win at St Mary’s earlier in the season.