Coventry 1 Southampton 2: Sky Blues dumped out by youthful Saints side
Coventry were dumped out of the FA Cup by Southampton on an afternoon at the Ricoh Arena where just as much attention focused on matters off the pitch as it did on it.
Gary McSheffrey half-volleyed City into the lead after just five minutes, an early opener which was missed by around 200 or more protesting Sky Blues fans who had gathered outside.
It was a peaceful demonstration aimed at under-fire owners SISU, calling on fans to show their support in favour of a change of ownership at the cash-strapped club between 2.45 and 3.15, with around 30 fans boycotting the third round tie entirely by remaining outside.
One for the future: James Ward-Prowse, a product of Southampton's prestigious youth academy, put Saints level
Coventry: Dunn, Christie, Keogh, Cranie, Wood (Hussey 78), Deegan, Thomas, Bigirimana (Ruffels 83), Baker, O'Donovan (Jeffers 65), McSheffrey. Subs not used: Murphy, McPake, Clarke.
Scorer: McSheffrey 5.
Southampton: Bialkowski, Harding (Stephens 87), Martin, Hooiveld, Cork, Ward-Prowse (Reeves 72), Schneiderlin, Hammond, Fox, Lallana, Doble (Hoskins 59). Subs not used: Davis, Forte, Holmes, Shaw.
Scorers: Ward-Prowse 64, Martin 82.
Referee: Colin Webster.
Yet those present inside, an
attendance of 9,000 which included 1,700 in the away end, were present
to see 17-year-old midfielder James Ward-Prowse level shortly after the
hour mark for a youthful Saints side.
And, just as a replay was rightfully
looking on the cards, defender Aaron Martin headed home an 82nd-minute
winner to book Southampton's place in the fourth round draw.
It was, however, a much closer affair
than a glance at the npower Championship table would have suggested as
top edged past bottom.
Coventry boss Andy Thorn made four
changes to his XI, most notably top scorer Lukas Jutkiewicz – heavily
linked with a January switch to hometown club Southampton – missing out
due to a back injury.
Saints, minus suspended 17-goal
striker Rickie Lambert, brought in five new faces, youngsters
Ward-Prowse and Ryan Doble among those coming in.
But it was incoming goalkeeper
Bartosz Bialkowski who proved his worth after just four minutes as he
denied City striker Roy O'Donovan when clean through.
Yet the Sky Blues – donning a
1987-inspired replica kit to mark the 25th anniversary of their famous
Wembley triumph over Tottenham – were not to be denied for much longer.
Red hot: Southampton celebrate the winner
Cyrus Christie sent in a cross from
the right and, with Saints appealing for a foul, Gael Bigirimana's
header set up McSheffrey and he half-volleyed home from 12 yards.
Coventry remained in control as the
majority of protesters outside started to filter into the stands, just
in time to see Richard Wood head over from McSheffrey's corner.
Morgan Schneiderlin fired narrowly
wide in the 35th minute as Southampton offered a rare threat in the
final third, while Coventry's Gary Deegan was denied by Bialkowski
towards the end of an ordinary first half.
City keeper Chris Dunn was called
upon to make his first real save within 60 seconds of a frantic start to
the second half as he denied Ward-Prowse.
But the lively youngster made no
mistake from close range in the 64th minute as he converted a cross from
former Coventry full-back Danny Fox.
Dan Harding volleyed an effort inches
wide moments later before Carl Baker drilled just over at the other end
as both sides went in search of a winner.
And it went Southampton's way eight
minutes from time as Martin met Fox's outswinging corner and his header
squirmed over the line despite the best efforts of Dunn.