The Championship’s bottom club Charlton Athletic came away from St Mary’s with all three points, after beating troubled Southampton 3-2 on Saturday.
Phil Parkinson’s side claimed only their second away win of the season, with goals from Jonjo Shelvey, Therry Racon and Nicky Bailey.
Despite David McGoldrick levelling the scores to make it 1-1, and a late goal from substitute Bradley Wright-Phillips, the visitors held on for all three points, although the win does little for Charlton’s survival chances, with Coach Mark Kinsella admitting prior to the game that the club are already planning for life in League One.
After it was announced during the week that the Saints’ parent company had entered administration, fans were urged to turn out in force to give the club’s finances a timely boost.
The fans responded, and did just that. 27,228 fans filled St Mary’s, and the attendance would have been more had Charlton taken up more of their away allocation.
However, despite the big crowd, Southampton’s best of the season, the players failed to rise to the occasion, letting the St Mary’s faithful down in the process. In all honesty, not even the most biased of Saints fans could have any complaints about the outcome either.
Jonjo Shelvey put the visitors one up with just seven minutes of play. A long goal kick was hit up field in hope more than anything, but Tresor Kandol managed to win the header, flicking it on to Shelvey. The youngster ran clean through on goal and slotted the ball past the onlooking Kelvin Davis to notch his first league goal for the club.
After the opener, the home side stepped things up a gear and got a foothold in the game. David McGoldrick levelled for the Saints with their first real chance of the game.
Nicky Bailey was caught in possession by McGoldrick with seventeen minutes on the clock. The Saints striker ran towards goal unchallenged, before cutting inside onto his left foot and firing past Robert Elliot in the Charlton goal.
Charlton had a number of half chances to regain the lead, but they failed to capitalise on their dominance during the first-half, despite being awarded a penalty.
Mark Hudson headed Bailey’s cross wide before Kandol was brought down by Jan-Paul Saeijs for a penalty. The Dutch defender had his arms all over the on-loan Leeds striker and could have no complaints about the decision to award the visitors a spot-kick.
However, Kandol failed to add to his tally of two Charlton goals as Davis made the save, although in truth it was a very poor penalty.
The Saints then looked to take advantage of Charlton’s inability to convert their chances, with chances falling to both Andrew Surman and McGoldrick, but neither player could trouble Elliot with their headed efforts.
With the scores level, both sides seemed contempt to see out the half and get into the changing rooms with the game tied at 1-1.
Charlton started the second-half the brightest out of the two sides, with Zheng Zhi and Kandol both failing to test Davis early on during the second period.
Polish striker Marek Saganowski, who scored two in two whilst on international duty last week, had a shot saved by Elliot before Davis again frustrated the impressive Kandol.
Charlton deservedly restored their lead when Racon ran onto a loose ball which he hit first time. The French midfielder struck a right-footed shot which flew into the top corner from 20-yards out. Phil Parkinson couldn’t hide his delight on the touchline, as he danced around in jubilation at Racon’s sweet strike.
The Saints had to start again, and former England Under-21 international Surman forced Elliot to save before Bailey appeared to put the result beyond doubt, firing home from six yards after 69 minutes.
The former Southend star ran at Saints’ makeshift right-back Jake Thomson, before using the outside of his right foot to prod the ball past Davis into the top corner, sending the travelling fans into raptures.
Saganowski again shot wide and McGoldrick had an effort held by Elliot before Southampton pulled a goal back with six minutes remaining.
Substitute Wright-Phillips curled in a right-foot effort from the edge of the box for his fourth goal of the season and his first since December.
With Mark Wotte’s side now very much in the ascendancy, they continued to press in search of a late equaliser. Veteran defender Chris Perry and McGoldrick went close and Jason Euell shot over but Southampton could not find a leveller.
The result means that the Saints remain one place above Charlton at the foot of the standings, although they do have a game in hand over their relegation rivals.
On Tuesday, Southampton make the short trip to Vicarage Road as they face Brendan Rogers’ in-form Watford, and a win for the visitors would put them level on points with fourth-bottom Norwich. Should the south coast club take maximum points from the game, they would only remain in the bottom three on goal difference.
As for Charlton, the win gives them a bit of confidence, although they are only playing for pride now. Everyone at the club is already looking ahead to next season, as they look set to begin their battle to make a quick return to The Championship.
If the Saints don’t start picking up some points soon, then they too will be joining Charlton in League One next season, although the possibility of a 10-point deduction could soon relegate Mark Wotte’s side anyway.
With the Football League due to meet on Tuesday to decide Southampton’s fate, the club’s players have just got to put the off-field problems to one side and get on with their jobs.
Attention now turns to Tuesday’s game with Watford, and three points would give the club a massive boost in their bid for survival.
Davis, Thomson (Liptak 80), Saeijs, Perry, Skacel, Lallana (Smith 64), Wotton, McGoldrick, Surman (Wright-Phillips 73), Saganowski, Euell.
Subs not used: Forecast, Schneiderlin.
Elliot, Butterfield, Hudson, Ward, Youga, Sam (Ambrose 73), Shelvey, Racon, Bailey, Zhi (Holland 68), Kandol (Burton 78).
Subs not used: Randolph, Dickson.