Southampton headed north to Oldham Athletic knowing that a win was needed to keep the pressure on the teams around them. On paper it looked like being a tricky encounter.
Nigel Adkins made seven changes to the team that beat Blackpool at home in the FA Cup as, Davis, Fonte, Jaidi, Dickson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Guly do Prado and Schneiderlin returned to the team.
Dean Hammond the skipper was out with a calf knock and Jason Puncheon who was feeling ill. Neither player was missed as Saints began the game on the front foot against the dangerous looking Boundary Park outfit.
Saints made their usual bright start as Lallana went close when forcing the young keeper Amos into a smart save as he pushed the ball round the post for a corner.
Nothing came of the corner and Oldham replied with a forward run of their own which ended up with Taylor shooting harmlessly wide.
Saints were soon back on the front foot as their wide men caused untol problems for the Latics defence. Saints piled on the pressure and in the 10th minute the pressure paid off.
Adam Lallana was given a great ball and he went on before crossing deep to Rickie Lambert who peeled off his marker before squaring the ball to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who gleefully swept the ball home on 10 minutes.
The expected reply from the hosts wasn’t forthcoming as Saints maintained a firm grip on the procedings. The team continued to apply the pressure and young Chamberlain was hacked down when in full flow which earned Dean Furman the first booking of the night.
Saints continued the pressure and with Guly and Lambert making life difficult for Oldham the home team was hardly able to offer a great deal of menace.
Saints next serious effort came from Chamberlain from distance as he gave the keeper more work to keep his mind fully alert.
With the clock running down a Richardson cross was met by Chamberlain but his shot went wide. Then the youngster sent in a cross for Guly do Prado who headed goalwards but too tamely to bother the Oldham stopper.
With Saints pressing almost non stop the second goal came with more than a hint of good fortune. The ball was moved quickly before ending up with Lallana who shot straight at the keeper who unexpectedly allowed the ball to slip through his hands and legs to trickle into the back of the net. 2-0 and Saints fans were exstatic as they joyously sang away.
Just minutes later Chamberlain Chamberlain beat his man and burst into the box before letting his shot go and he narrowly missed scoring at the far poost for what would have been a truly brilliant goal.
Oldham then missed a sitter as they caught the defence out in a break and Tounkara had a simple header which hit the post and rebounded back out to him to give him another simple chance but he sent his second effort horribly wide to allow Saints a respite, as they heaved a collective sigh of relief.
Oldham came out for the second half with Arsenal loanie Evina replaced by Millar. They started more brightly and Morais drew a fine low save from Davis. This attack was followed with more Latics pressure as they tried to get back into the game. A cross was sent into the box with several blue shirts battling to get on the end of it before Taylor latched onto it sending his shot wide.
Saints repoly was instant and deadly.Schneiderlin won the ball in midfield before spraying it out wide to Lambert who then crossed into the edge of the box for Guly to meet and smash firmly into the net for Saints third. 0-3.
Oldham tried to retaliate but the best they offered was a shot from Millar which went wide of the right hand post to safety.
Saints nearly had a fourth when Chamberlain stepping out of an offside position spun and hammered a shot goalwards beating the keeper but the goal was disallowed as he had gone too soon.
Saints then played the ball around before Lallana was able to hold the ball up and looking up finding Chaplow running across the edge of the box towards him. Lallana played a glorious pass into his path and Chaplow smashed a thunderous shot high into the net to make it four. 0-4.
There was a short lull then as both sides made substitutions. Latics took Furman off and replaced him with Warren Feeney before Saints saw Lallana take a knock. Lallana was then subbed with Oscar Gobern coming on.
Almost Immediately Gobern had a hand in the move which led to Rickie Lambert scoring. A Saints cross was picked up by the defence but Gobern forced a rash clearance as he pressed and Lambert was on hand to score. 0-5.
Saints then made their last two changes as Jaidi was rested by the appearance Seaborne and then Chamberlain with Barnard.
Barnard was invoplved straight away as Saints continued to apply the pressure. Guly played a superb pass through for Barnard to run on to and after rounding the hapless keeper he calmly prodded it into the net for number six.
Saints still pressed and could have made it seven before the referee brought tha Latics pain to an end.
A superb result for the Saints and one which watching Alex Ferguson will have surely been fully warned as to the strength of the team he will need to produce for the imminent cup game due to be played at St Mary’s.
Watching Liverpool spies will surely have been impressed yet again by the quality of some of our players. Chamberlain being the main reason for their viewing our game.
The team is improvig and as long as we don’t get carried away this could be the first of several good games for our team.
Nigel Adkins has tuned the team into a real force in our league. The addition of Richard Chaplow has made a huge impact as has the settling in of Guly do Prado. His selections are all working and again he pulled a perormance from our team. 8
Paul Dickov will be a very sad man tonight. His after match interview was short and direct and he was very complimentary about the Saints team and how they played. Not much he could have done about the result though the second goal could have been avoided and that might have made a difference to the outcome. 6
Nigel stressed the importance of keeping our feet on the floor after this impressive win and hopefully he will have the team ready to battle in the same way he did tonight.