Adkins proud as Southampton show fighting spirit to bounce back against Villa
20:32 GMT, 22 September 2012
Southampton manager Nigel Adkins highlighted togetherness as the catalyst to his side overcoming their miserable start to life back in the Premier League with a 4-1 defeat of Aston Villa.
Saints came into the match rooted to the bottom of the standings after four successive defeats and looked on course for another loss when Darren Bent gave Villa a first-half lead.
However, Rickie Lambert drew the hosts level and then played a part in the build-up as Nathaniel Clyne tucked away a superb ball from Gaston Ramirez.
Jason Puncheon saw a shot deflected in by Villa defender Ciaran Clark shortly afterwards, before Lambert netted from the spot in stoppage time to secure a victory that helps lift the pressure off the newly-promoted side.
On target: Rickie Lambert hit two as Southampton recorded their first points of the campaign
'I think it is understandable when you lose the first games of the season [there is a bit of tension and anxiety],' Adkins said.
'It is always a situation that could be pressurised, if you like. We keep talking to players about working through the process.
'We want to pass the football and everyone is well aware of that. We've done it on many, many occasions.
'I think the supporters understand that as well and there was a massive togetherness all the way through the stadium together.
'One or two passes may have gone astray but there was a real belief about what we do. We scored some good goals and arguably could have got a couple more.
'It is great that we have got a football club where everyone is united together. We have come a long way in a short space of time and [even] sometimes when things aren't quite going our way, everyone pulls together.
Mixed emotions: Paul Lambert and Nigel Adkins on the sideline
'Everyone has worked very, very hard from the chairman all the way down. We have got some fantastic staff, some fantastic football players and importantly the supporters, who are outstanding.
'They get behind the players and the team. They know what we are trying to achieve, what we are achieving and, together as one, we're doing it.'
It was quite a return to form by Southampton after last week's 6-1 hiding at Arsenal.
Adkins shook things up in a bid to change his side's fortunes, bringing in Ramirez, Maya Yoshida and Paulo Gazzaniga for their full Premier League debuts.
The latter was a surprise inclusion, with the 20-year-old Argentinian goalkeeper replacing club captain Kelvin Davis after he conceded 14 goals in Southampton's first four Premier League matches.
'They are decisions that all managers have to make,' Adkins said. 'Kelvin Davis is an outstanding professional. He has been fantastic since I joined this football club and has been an ever-present for us.
'I've got to make a decision about what I have to go and do. I spoke to Kelvin on Thursday about it and he reacted exactly how I imagined he would.
Harsh lesson: Paulo Gazzaniga can only watch as Darren Bent hits the opener
'He has been a total professional, got right behind the players and has given Paulo a lot of support and Paulo has gone and put in a good performance today.'
While Southampton can celebrate a vital first three points, Villa left St Mary's wondering what could have been.
Christian Benteke came agonisingly close to doubling their advantage shortly into the second half, before manager Paul Lambert's namesake inspired a superb comeback.
'The first half I thought we were worthy of it but you can't defend as deep as that and expect to get a 1-0,' Lambert said.
'We had a couple of chances to make it two and we were okay for 50 minutes. They have been down before in games so there was no need to panic. At 2-1 you are still in the game but we have moments like that.
'I never get too high when we win or too low when we lose. The lads know, they don't need me to tell them what's good and what's not. The first half we were fine but then we gave ourselves too much to do.'