Southampton 0 Leicester 2: Saints suffer title blow as Nugent and Mills out-Fox hosts
Southampton missed the chance to return to the top of the Championship table as Leicester City pulled off a shock win at St Mary's.
For most of this encounter it was difficult to tell which was the mid-table team and which side was pushing for promotion.
Where once it looked like the rest were scrapping for second place, it is now Southampton looking nervously over their shoulders.
On target: David Nugent (left) celebrates scoring his side's first goal with team-mate Paul Konchesky
Head boy: Matt Mills (second right) scores doubles Leicester's advantage at St Mary's
Job well done: Foxes team-mates Mills (right) and Sean St. Ledger celebrate the second goal
Southampton: Davis, Harding, Martin, Hooiveld (Richardson 65), Fox, Cork, Hammond (De Ridder 56), Schneiderlin, Falque (Holmes 56), Do Prado, Connolly.
Subs not used: Bialkowski, Reeves.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Peltier, Mills, St. Ledger, Konchesky, Gallagher (Drinkwater 42), Danns, Wellens, Dyer, Nugent (Howard 87), Beckford (Delfouneso 75).
Subs not used: Logan, Kennedy.
Goals: Nugent 15, Mills 26
Booked: Konchesky, Nugent
Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire)
After only two wins in their last eight league games Saints are now only a point above third placed Cardiff City.
Last time out at St Mary's, when Southampton missed the chance to finish 2011 unbeaten at home in the league by losing 1-0 to Bristol City, it was former Portsmouth goalkeeper David James who frustrated them.
Here it was another former Pompey player, David Nugent, who managed to rile the Southampton fans.
With 15 minutes on the clock, Nugent collected a long punt forward from Foxes' captain Matt Mills, took advantage of right-back Dan Harding being out of position and curled the ball quite beautifully inside the post from just outside the box.
The striker, 26, then celebrated in front of the home fans – just for effect, of course.
Tussle: Southampton's Jack Cork (left) keeps the ball away from St. Ledger (centre)
Catch me if you can: Foxes defender Konchesky is challenged by Cork
But it was not just Saints' fans who were rattled. For a side who had only conceded nine goals in 13 Championship games prior to this game, the players looked nervous too, and apprehensive at the back.
Nugent could have had a second after 23 minutes with a shot that rolled wide of the far post – and poor defending cost Saints the second goal three minutes later.
Hands off: Southampton's Guly do Prado (left) collides with Konchesky
On the bench: Nathan Delfouneso was a Leicester substitute following his loan move from Astion Villa
Nigel Adkins' side failed to clear a
Paul Gallagher corner and Sean St Ledger delivered a cross that Mills, a
former Saints player, headed powerfully past Kelvin Davis.
It seems Rickie Lambert, the
division's top scorer, who last night served the last match of his
three-game ban, cannot return soon enough. Southampton improved as the
half wore on.
Tottenham's 22-year-old midfielder Yago Falque, who made his debut on loan last night, was quiet on the left in place of the injured Adam Lallana while Morgan Schneiderlin was at the heart of Saints' best chances.
The France Under 21 international headed wide and then made an excellent run into the box, only to watch Jack Cork blast high and wide.
Southampton came very close to clawing a goal back eight minutes into the second half, when Kasper Schmeichel had to tip Dean Hammond's header onto the post from a Daniel Fox free-kick.
Adkins made a double substitution on 56 minutes, sending on Lee Holmes and Steve de Ridder in a desperate bid to inject some width into his side's stilted play.
But Leicester's dominance continued, and Foxes defender Paul Konchesky hit the post with a 25-yard free kick.