Demolition Derby at St Mary's

Southampton rose to the summit of the Championship table in style with a resounding 4-0 win over a poor Derby side who never threatened to cause an upset.

Southampton rose to the summit of the Championship table in style, with a scintillating performance from Adam Lallana helping Saints to a resounding 4-0 win over a poor Derby side who never threatened to cause an upset.

Saints came into this game on the back of a good draw at West Ham in midweek. Adkins made two changes, bringing in Richard Chaplow and Dan Harding for Guly Do Prado and Frazer Richardson, whom were out with illness and injury respectively. Meanwhile Derby arrived at St Mary’s as significant underdogs, having only won one of their last eleven away games in the Championship.

Jos Hooiveld opened the scoring after 15 minutes, poking home from close range after a Fonte knock down from a Fox corner. Saints could have had a second soon after with a succession of close shaves. Lallana produced a delightful turn on the edge of the box but could only curl his left footed shot just wide of the far post with Fielding in the Derby goal looking on helplessly.

Lallana then let fly with a fizzing drive that missed the left hand post, before Lambert got on the end of a Harding cross, but he could only blaze his strike over the bar from inside the area.

Derby almost equalised with 5 minutes to go in the second half, a poor clearance resulting in Jamie Ward cracking a low shot through a crowded box , which Davis did well to stop and hold. The last chance of the half fell to Lambert, who struck a free kick from 25 yards out beautifully well, and only a fingertip save kept the score at 1-0.

Adkins made two changes at half time, bringing on Aaron Martin in place of Jos Hooiveld at centre half as a precautionary measure, and Tanadari Lee in place of Billy Sharp, who had failed to make an impact in the first half.

It took only 10 minutes of the second half for Adkins’ changes to pay dividends, with Danny Fox’s corner acrobatically hooked in at the far post by Martin, his first league goal for Southampton.

This was the catalyst for Nigel Clough to make Derby’s first substitution, John Brayford being replaced by Callum Ball.

The change did not have the desired effect on the underperforming Derby side, however, and within a few minutes of the change Southampton went 3-0 up, Adam Lallana powered home a superb volley from a Fox cross, finishing off a well worked team move.

Saints continued to pile forward at every opportunity, although Kelvin Davis had to get down well to save Ball’s 20 yard drive. A flurry of substitutions resulted in Steve Davies and Theo Robinson replacing James Bailey and Nathan Tyson for Derby, while Jason Puncheon came on for Chaplow for Southampton.

The dynamic of the game remained unchanged however, and on 75 minutes Tanadari Lee powered home his first goal for Southampton with a sweetly struck drive from the edge of the area which arrowed  into the top far corner. St Mary’s was bouncing, and Lee was clearly ecstatic to have scored, milking the applause from all sides of the ground.

Despite the game being won, Saints still attacked, looking for more goals. Lallana was instrumental, as he had been all game, with flicks, tricks and ball control that will surely see him grace the Premier League sooner rather than later. Jack Cork was superb in possession and Morgan Scheiderlin put in the kind of performance that has seen him linked with Arsenal and other top sides.

This win for Southampton was vital in the race for promotion. With many of the forthcoming fixtures pitting the top sides against each other, Saints fans will be hoping that they can remain in the automatic promotion places, as they have done all season so far, with just over two months of the season remaining.

Saints: Davis, Harding, Fonte, Hooiveld (Martin 46), Fox, Chaplow (Puncheon 71), Cork, Schneiderlin, Lallana, Lambert, Sharp (Lee 46). Subs (not used): Hammond, Connolly.

Derby: Fielding, Brayford (Ball 58), Roberts, Barker, Shackell, Hendrick, Green, Bailey (Davies 71), Carroll, Tyson (Robinson 65), Ward. Subs (not used): Legzdins, Buxton.