Southampton grabbed another vital away win in the Championship after a 1-0 success at Leeds. Rickie Lambert’s first half volley was enough to separate the 2 teams at Elland Road. Leeds pilled on the pressure however Kelvin Davis produced a man-of-the-match performance to keep the Lilywhites at bay. The result extends Southampton’s lead at the top to four points over West Ham.
Neil Warnock was in the Elland Road dugout for the first time since he took over as Leeds manager. He saw his side dominate the first ten minutes of the match even though Southampton might have given a penalty away early on when Robert Sondgrass’ effort was blocked by defender José Fonte’s raising arms to protect his face. The visitors were on the back foot moments later where Jos Hooiveld’s cleared header found the boot of Leeds midfielder Adam Clayton, though his lacklustre effort was comfortable for Southampton goalkeeper Kelvin Davis. The visitors went on the attack soon after where Jack Cork delivered the perfect cross from the right hand side for Tadanari Lee to head back to Rickie Lambert to volley home from close range on 14 minutes. Lambert’s goal was against the run of play although he extended his tally to 20 league goals for the season.
Unfortunately, Southampton couldn’t keep the ball for long periods during the first half as Leeds came back onto the attack with Snodgrass firing his volley high into the stand. Ross McCormack’s curling effort also went just wide of the left post. The Scottish international provided the cross for Luciano Becchio to force an excellent one handed save from Kelvin Davis. Snodgrass was back in the action as a lovely move on the left ended with the Leeds captain curling his effort just wide off the far post. Aiden White repeated the same feat just before half-time for the home side which his effort produced the same outcome as Snodgrass’ moments before.
Knowing that Leeds were providing all of the pressure, Southampton boss Nigel Adkins made a double change at half-time bringing on Dean Hammond and Guly Do Prado. Southampton avoided conceding an equaliser minutes into the second half after Snodgrass crossed in from the left for Becchio to get a toe onto the ball which went just over the crossbar. The Southampton defence would be back in the thick of the action on 62 minutes when Adam Clayton’s cross, from the outside of his right foot, was competed by Becchio and Davis in the air with Becchio getting to the ball to steer it towards goal. Fortunately for Southampton, Davis dived just in time to scoop the ball away from the goalline which was eventually cleared away by the Saints.
The Southampton goalkeeper was forced to make another save a minute this time from substitute Danny Webber after he played a one-two with Becchio in the box. Webber, who signed on loan from moneyless Portsmouth earlier in the week, had yet another effort saved by the right hand of Davis from outside the box. Webber missed another great opportunity to equalise for Leeds after Becchio hooked the ball towards his strike partner, Frazer Richardson miskicked and Webber came in to lift the ball over Davis but just off the near post.
Overall, it is a fantastic victory for the Saints at a ground where they don’t have the best of records, previously winning just 6 league matches at Elland Road in their history. Their seventh victory is arguably the most important to Southampton Football Club in terms of their Premier League ambitions. Watching the game yesterday was one of the most tense matches that I have ever seen with Leeds pilling on the pressure as the game went on. Southampton didn’t play like league leaders do however credit to Leeds for their fast, attacking prowess however the determination to keep the score at 1-0 throughout the match was just outstanding.
Kelvin Davis deserved his man-of-the-match award after another set of crucial saves including scooping the ball away from Becchio’s close range effort. His consistency this season has been second to none which he suffered the hard times when the club went into administration which resulted relegation to League One back in 2009. He has always been a superb shot-stopper and I feel that he can produce the same performances in the Premier League after a forgettable time at Sunderland.