Southampton travelled to Colchester on the back of a very disappointing result at Walsall. Morgan Schneiderlin was out with an injury so Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was brought back in to start.
Colchester started with strong forceful pressure and at times Saints were stretched to the limit to keep them at bay.Kayode Odejayi was proving to be a real handful with his strength and running and on 5 minutes he out muscled Jose Fonte to get past him but Kelvin Davis saw the danger and was quickly out to smother the ball at Odejayi’s feet.
Saints were unable to impose themselves on their hosts as they would have liked as the big strong Colchester team were not afraid to mix it. The game had begun in a niggly fashion and it took Saints a long time to overcome the strong arm tactics that Colchester were using.
First man in the book though was Lee Barnard for an aerial overly robust challenge on Matt Heath. Heath getting the arm of Barnard in his face as they challenged for the ball.
Colchester were still in the ascendancy and the next real danger to Saints came with a perfect low cross from Mooney but there was nobody around to connect for Colchester.
Then Saints finally had a chance of their own when Rickie Lambert stepped up to take a free kick some 25 yards out. Instead of his usual drive for goal with a shot he used a training ground routine which eventually got deflected for a corner.
With half an hour of play nearly reached the game was turned on it’s head. Another free kick fell Southampton’s way. This time Rickie Lambert elected to have a shot and smashed it goalwards. The ball cannoned off of the wall and fell kindly for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who reacted quickly to put the ball into the net from six yards.
Colchester immediately attacked fervently and Davis was beaten to the ball. Butterfield tangled with Wordsworth and as Davis collected the ball he was tripped. David Mooney then raced in and started shoving Butterfield for no apparent reason. The referee stepped in and issued him with a straight red card.
Saints were now a goal up and with a man advantage must have felt that they were now in pole position to collect the win. Moments later they were nearly two goals to the good. Oxlade-Chamberlain produced a great cross which was headed firmly goalwards only to see Ben Williams brilliantly turn the header onto the top of the bar and over for a corner.
Lloyd James then took a pot shot at the Saints goal but it flew wide as the game came to the break. Half-time and Saints were a shade lucky to be leading 1-0.
The second half was only 5 minutes old when Saints doubled their lead. Saints took a short corner and one that should have been cleared fell to Dean Hammond the Saints’ skipper duly placed the loose ball past keeper Williams. So ex Colchester hero Hammond had added another nail into the U’s coffin for this game.
Though Colchester were not lying down Saints were beginning to make chances. First Williams did well to keep out a Chaplow effort by coming out quickly before the shot could be fired past him.
On 64 minutes Colchester made a double substitution with Steven Gillespie and Andy Bond coming on for Wordsworth and Izzet as they saught to find a way back into the game.
Soon after, Lee Barnard passed the ball out wide to Adam Lallana on the left. He then raced into the box to meet the resulting cross only to find Williams once again on hand to thwart his goal attempt saving low down as he dived smartly to his right.
Colchester did come close soon after with Kelvin Davis saving with his legs before Clarke headed over from the corner.
With 20 minutes to go youngster Aaron Martin came on to replace the tiring Radhi Jaidi. He was immediately called into action with a timely tackle to clear away a Colchester attack.
Colchester then found the back of the net but had the effort disallowed for offside. A good James cross had Heath heading home but to no avail.
Saints then began to stroke the ball around and the threat from Colchester began to evaporate. Barnard again came close as he finally managed to beat the keeper but the ball ran tantalisingly wide.
Barnard was then replaced by Dany N’Guessan. This meant a change of formation as Saints swithed to 4-5-1. Oxlade-Chamberlain then came close with Williams saving with his legs.
Colchester then made their final substitution with Ashley Vincent coning on for Odejayi who had run himself to a standstill in his efforts to dismantle the Saints rearguard.
Lallana then gave Williams some more work before Saints brought of Oxlade-Chamberlain with Frazer Richardson replacing him. The Saints fans stood to a man as they cheered our young star from the field. Yet again he had played a major part in what was a hard fought victory.
Five minutes of time was added with Saints slowing the game down as they sprayed the ball around. The referee blew for time and we had won a hard fought game with no quarter taken. Three very valuable points and a big boost to morale after the disaster at Walsall.
An added bonus was the way Aaron Martin stepped up to the mark when brought on. he looked cool and calm and steadied the ship at the back with his seamless arrival as Jose Fonte’s partner.
Nigel Adkins – 8
igel started with the team having to work extremely hard to get a foothold. He made his substitutions at good stages of the game and did well.
John Ward 7
Unlucky with the sending off and had his team fired up for the game.
Nigel told Radio Solent
You’ve got to come away from home and weather the storm.
‘Great discipline from the players especially Lee Barnard who kept getting booted. He didn’t retaliate which is what we talked about at half-time.
The players bounced back after the disappointment the other day, kept a good clean sheet and got a good valuable three points.’
Talking to Radio Essex John Ward said.
‘It was a good game, 11 against 11. I thought we had given as good as we got.
‘We restricted them to the opportunities they got. They got a break off the free-kick, but we always knew Lambert was dangerous, but we dealt with that and it dropped for them.
The sending off changes the whole nature of the afternoon for everybody, not just the players but the supporters as well.’