Southampton 4 Coventry 0: Saints go marching into Premier League in style
13:59 GMT, 28 April 2012
Southampton secured their return to the Barclays Premier League after a seven-year absence with a comfortable win against already relegated Coventry.
Goals from Billy Sharp and Jose Fonte in the first half and Jos Hooiveld and Adam Lallana after the break gave a record St Mary's crowd the result they had been eagerly hoping for.
The home side dominated from start to finish, rarely allowing their lowly guests a sight of goal.
We are going up: Southampton have returned to the Premier League after a two year absence
SOUTHAMPTON: Davis; Fonte, Butterfield, Fox, Hooiveld, Schneiderlin, Guly, Hammond (Cork 37), Lallana (Puncheon 82), Lambert, Sharp (De Ridder 76) Subs not used: Bialkowski, Harding
Goals: Sharp 16, Fonte 19, Hooiveld 59, Lallana 63
COVENTRY: Murphy, Hussey, Cranie, Clarke, Willis (Henderson 72), Baker, Norwood, Thomas, Bigirimana (Jeffers 46), McSheffrey (Roberts 34), McDonald Subs not used: Dunn, Platt.
And Southampton could well have won
by more, but Rickie Lambert and Guly Do Prado both wasted golden
opportunities in front of goal.
For manager Nigel Adkins and the players and coaching staff at the south coast club those misses will not have mattered.
As, almost three years to the day
after a 10-point deduction effectively consigned them to relegation to
League One, the Saints are marching back into the top flight.
Coventry enjoyed the first two sights
of goal early on but Carl Baker ballooned his effort over the crossbar
when well placed inside the area and Kelvin Davis in the Southampton
goal got down well to deny Gary McSheffrey.
And having squandered such glorious chances in the first 10 minutes, the Sky Blues were made to pay as the Saints stormed into the lead.
On 17 minutes, Fonte burst out of his
own area and teed up Do Prado on the right and, when the Brazilian's
cross was met by Lallana's volley, Sharp was on hand to redirect the
ball past Coventry keeper Joe Murphy.
Nerves settled, Southampton quickly went about their demolition job and edged further in front.
Looking Sharp: Southampton were set on the way when Billy Sharp pounced just after the quarter hour
Danny Fox's corner from the right
picked out Fonte, who outmuscled his marker to bury a header beyond
Murphy. St Mary's went ballistic.
Baker tested Davis once more before
half-time, in a rare foray forward for the visitors, while Lambert saw
his goalbound effort blocked by Martin Cranie.
The second half picked up exactly where the first had left off, with Southampton in utter control.
No way, Jose: Saints were two up inside 20 minutes thanks to Jose Fonte
Do Prado headed over from Danny
Butterfield's cross and Lambert's fizzing effort went within inches of
adding a third for the hosts.
But soon the Saints could start celebrating on the terraces, as the home side pushed themselves out of sight.
Contrasting futures: While Southampton celebrated, Coventry reflect on a desperately disappointing campaign
Fox's right-wing corner broke to
Sharp and, after the striker's initial attempt was blocked, Hooiveld was
on hand to scramble the ball home.
Pressure now fully released, Southampton had the liberty to run wild.
High hopes: Southampton have followed Norwich in securing back-to-back promotions
It did not take long for a fourth
goal to arrive. This time it was Lallana's turn to get on the
scoresheet, tapping home from close range after Lambert nodded the ball
back across goal.
As time ran out, and the fans assembled pitchside for the inevitable end-of-match invasion, the hosts continued to press.
And while their heroes were unable to
add to their afternoon's haul, come the final whistle the supporters did
not care. The Saints go marching on.