This afternoon saw promotion chasing Southampton travel to the Withdean stadium to take on, the already crowned champions, Brighton and Hove Albion. With the Saints lying three points off of second place Huddersfield, they needed to claim at least a point from the game, despite having two games in hand on the Terriers. The Seagulls were looking to hang on to their extremely impressive unbeaten home record for the season.
The South coast derby began with jubilation in the stands, as the Brighton fans continued their celebrations from winning the title last weekend. Eager to upset the party and break Brighton’s home record, the Saints began brightly with Guly Do Prado fashioning an early chance and Rickie Lambert having a free kick saved in the tenth minute by Brighton stopper Casper Ankergren.
Brighton top scorer Glenn Murray posed an aerial threat to Kelvin Davis’, despite heading over from Inigo Calderon’s cross mid-way through the first half. Despite either team creating many clear-cut chances in the first half, Brighton entered the break in the lead, as Ashley Barnes latched onto a Radhi Jaidi back pass to send the champions into a one-goal lead.
In attempt to change things for the second period, Saints gaffer Nigel Adkins introduced Adam Lallana into the side in place of Jonathan Forte. Lallana made an instant impression for the Saints, helping create chances for Guly and Lambert, for them to be denied only by a resilient Ankergren and the post respectively.
The Saints continued to press throughout the second period, but it was Oscar Gobern’s replacement, the injury prone David Connolly who made the breakthrough on the 84th minute. When Danny Butterfield’s cross was headed down by Lambert, the substitute Connolly was on hand to sweep home the equaliser, sending the eight hundred traveling fans into raptures.
They had more to celebrate as five minutes later, Portugese centre back, Jose Fonte headed home from a Kelvin Davis free kick, which had come via Ryan Dickson, sending the Saints fans into a two-one lead late on in the game.
The game ended that way, giving Saints a crucial three points and jumping them back into the automatic promotion slots on goal difference. With four games remaining in the season, Adkins believes his side needs to win three more to gain promotion from League One.
With the promotion battle looking like it will go to the wire, attentions turn to the next round of matches on Easter Monday, where Southampton host Hartlepool and Huddersfield host Dagenham and Redbridge.
The three points are all Adkins could have been wanting and another three points on Monday will cap off the Easter period for the Saints. Nine more points will be a better Easter gift than any chocolate egg for Saints fans…
Read the full match report on the Saints website and be sure to watch the Football League Show tonight at 11.50 on BBC 1.