Southampton 0 Bristol City 1: Pearson trips up Saints at last
Bristol City stopped npower Championship leaders Southampton finishing the year unbeaten at St Mary’s in the league with a shock win on Friday night.
Stephen Pearson’s 79th-minute strike meant a first defeat in 24 home league games for the Saints in 2011 and the most unlikely of doubles for City, now three points above the drop zone.
Derek McInnes’ side beat Southampton 2-0 in the reverse fixture in November and have now recorded four straight wins over the south coast side.
Although 2011 has been a memorable year for Nigel Adkins’ side, who earned promotion from League One and lead the Championship by three points, they have won just one of their last five games.
Delight: Stephen Pearson celebrates his winner
Adkins said: ‘We had enough opportunities to win. It was a great atmosphere but we move on and look forward to 2012. It’s been a great year for Southampton — we just didn’t finish it off.’
City’s former Portsmouth goalkeeper David James, 41, was in inspired form despite being booed incessantly by the home fans and, with Kalifa Cisse protecting their well-organised back four, Southampton could not break through.
They attacked with width and pace, Steve de Ridder enjoying success on the right flank, but the final shot was always lacking.
Morgan Schneiderlin had a 35-yard drive tipped over by James and Louis Carey cleared a De Ridder effort after the veteran keeper blocked the initial shot.
The 4million-rated Nicky Maynard, possibly playing his last match for Bristol City after turning down a new contract, had few chances against a club interested in signing him. But the striker, also being tracked by QPR and Fulham, thought he had given the visitors the lead after 53 minutes.
Heads up: Rickie Lambert”s effort flies over the crossbar
Southampton goalkeeper Kelvin Davis parried Cisse’s shot and, though Maynard put away the rebound, it was ruled offside.
Bristol City boss McInnes said: ‘We had to do it the hard way. Nicky Maynard’s goal should stand — he’s so sharp and quick and it was a delightful finish — but we didn’t let it affect us.’
De Ridder, Guly do Prado and Rickie Lambert all threatened, while Davis denied Pearson.
Davis then parried efforts from Cole Skuse and Maynard but could not stop the third as Pearson, on loan from Derby until January 2, stroked the winner into an empty net.