Southampton 1-0 Reading: Puncheon lifts Saints out of bottom three
It is another vital win for Nigel Adkins' men as they bounce back from defeat at Liverpool with victory against a Royals side which has now lost four games in a row
By Tom McKeown
Southampton got back to winning ways with a 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Reading at St Mary’s on Saturday afternoon.
Jason Puncheon’s fine second-half strike proved the difference as the visitors were unable to create any meaningful openings, despite a Hal Robson-Kanu header hitting the post on the stroke of half-time.
The win pushes Saints out of the relegation zone and continues their fine run of form, while Reading are consigned to a fourth defeat on the trot.
Nigel Adkins made two changes from the defeat at Liverpool, with Kelvin Davis starting in goal ahead of Paulo Gazzaniga, while Jay Rodriguez got the nod in place of Gaston Ramirez, who made the Saints bench.
Brian McDermott named an unchanged Royals side from the dramatic 4-3 defeat at home to Manchester United, with Adam Le Fondre starting up front alongside Jason Roberts, while Pavel Pogrebnyak missed out through injury.
It was a bright start for the hosts as Jose Fonte headed down Luke Shaw’s cross towards Jay Rodriguez, who blasted low into the side netting from a tight angle.
Rickie Lambert drove a 25-yard volley wide before Southampton had another glorious chance to go ahead as Jason Puncheon set Nathaniel Clyne loose on the right, but his drilled cross hit Morgan Schneiderlin in the chest and rolled wide.
The visitors started to enjoy more possession, but struggled to create as the Saints defence stood firm. Up the other end, Lambert had another attempt with a curling effort across goal that Federici did well to palm away.
The hosts then had a goal disallowed as Puncheon headed in at the far post from a corner, as the referee spotted an infringement in the area.
Gaston Ramirez entered the fray after Lallana picked up a knock on his knee, with, almost simultaneously, Maya Yoshida seeing a header cleared from the far post by Shaun Morrison before Lambert failed direct the follow-up effort on target.
Right on the stroke of half-time the visitors almost went in front as Morrison headed Shaun Cummings’ cross towards Hal Robson-Kanu, who directed the ball against the post.
The hosts started brightly after the break and Puncheon forced another fine save from Federici as he tried a low curling effort from the edge of the box, before Rodriguez volleyed just wide from 25 yards.
And Southampton finally took the lead on the hour as Lambert released Clyne who played a superb pass for Puncheon to gather and roll the ball across goal into the far corner.
Jobi McAnuff immediately had a chance to level after Clyne’s botched clearance, but blasted the ball well over the bar.
As the game entered the latter stages there was little action at either end as both sides battled in midfield, while Roberts was working hard for the visitors but not having much joy as the hosts held on to register another win and leap out of the relegation zone.
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