Southampton 2, Norwich City 0
PUBLISHED: 20:41 30 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:48 10 September 2010
Glenn Roeder saw part two of his three-point plan for the week ripped apart on the south coast. Having failed to get past Barnsley at the weekend, City headed for Southampton hoping to go one better against another struggling side. Instead, they were sent packing - and will now hope that it won't be an unwanted hat-trick when Derby come to Carrow Road on Saturday.
Glenn Roeder saw part two of his three-point plan for the week ripped apart on the south coast on Tuesday night.
Having failed to get past Barnsley at the weekend, City headed for Southampton hoping to go one better against another struggling side. Instead, they were sent packing - and will now hope that it won't be an unwanted hat-trick when Derby come to Carrow Road on Saturday.
It was a defeat which, even after Southampton went ahead on 29 minutes, didn't look on the cards at half-time. But within quarter of an hour of the restart, City were a beaten side.
Former Ipswich keeper Kelvin Davis, who had already denied Antoine Sibierski, produced a one-man show in the early stage, denying Omar Koroma with two stunning saves within the space of a minute.
But the real damage was done just after the hour mark when City defender Dejan Stefanovic was shown a straight red card after conceding a penalty: at 2-0 down and with only 10 men, City never got back into the game and, but the heroics of goalkeeper David Marshall might have suffered a much worse fate.
Roeder had handed teenage striker Koroma his first league start for the Canaries.
The 18-year-old - whose only start since signing on loan from Portsmouth was in the Carling Cup defeat at MK Dons in August - came in to the attack after Darel Russell was switched back to midfield to replace the injured Matty Pattison.
On-loan Arturo Lupoli returned to the squad after missing Saturday's goalless draw at Barnsley with a hamstring problem, but had to be content with a place on the bench.
Roeder kept faith with his backline, meaning Ryan Bertrand was again chosen ahead of Wes Hoolahan on the left side of midfield.
The Canaries had been pinned back in their own half for most of the early stages at Barnsley on Saturday - but that wasn't the case at St Mary's where the Canaries took possession from kick-off and dictated the pace of the opening minutes.
Antoine Sibierski looked lively early on and drew the first foul on four minutes, as he collided with Andrew Surman on the halfway line.
Koroma was unlucky to be flagged offside on eight minutes as Elliott Omozusi chipped a ball forward in the swirling wind, with both sides making heavy weather in the entertainment stakes.
David McGoldrick caused a few flutters when he went past Stefanovic and got in a good low cross into the six-yard box which Jon Otsemobor did well to clear before the Saints winger shot against the post, with keeper Marshall relieved to see the ball go away for a goal kick.
Russell did well to make ground down the left, but good work around the edge of the area by Koroma, Lee Croft and Bertrand was wasted when skipper Mark Fotheringham was muscled out of possession by two Saints defenders.
But it was Croft who brought the game to life on 18 minutes with a superb run and cross down the right, his ball finding Sibierski perfectly placed for a header which Davis brilliantly tipped on to his left post.
For the second game in a row, the Frenchman had been denied by a superb save, but the Canaries took heart, with another run from Croft ending with Bertrand volleying a shot wide from 20 yards. The initiative was certainly with the visitors, and yet again it was Croft at the heart of their best work, with another teasing cross after a superb crossfield pass by Sibierski headed first by Koroma and then over the bar by Russell.
Koroma was spending most of his time on the left and gradually working his way into the game - certainly his work rate couldn't be faulted.
It was his persistence down the left on 27 minutes when he beat two Saints players on a 30-yard run before spotting Croft at the far post, only for the winger's shot to be tipped away for a corner.
But then disaster struck, just when City least expected it. It was a goal that came right out of the blue, Davis playing it out to Chris Perry who found Andrew Surman. The midfielder knocked it wide to Jordan Robertson who cut inside on his right foot and curled a superb shot around Marshall's left hand and into the top right corner on 29 minutes.
Quality goal that it was, to say it was against the run of play was an understatement: Southampton had hardly had a kick for 10 minutes, but if City needed to show proof of their character, it was now.
The goal stirred Saints into life, as you would expect, but City came close on 35 minutes when Koroma did well to win a corner and Fotheringham's flag kick was headed goalwards by Stefanovic and turned away at the foot of the post for a corner. Sibierski headed the next flag kick over the bar as City showed signs of quickly regaining their earlier momentum.
But with half-time approaching it was the hosts who were looking more threatening, with sub Bradley Wright-Phillips crashing a superb left-foot effort from 25 yards against Marshall's crossbar.
Roeder opted against any half-time changes and within minutes Sibierski flicked on a Koroma cross from the left, with Russell just unable to get there before Davis collected.
Marshall had to do the same at the other end to stop Robertson, but gathered in time.
City fans were furious at referee Beeby when Davis' poor kick out to Joseph Mills was read by Croft, who quickly tackled the left back - who remained on the ground. It was enough to convince the official that Croft had committed a foul - and enough to put an end to a promising City attack.
Stefanovic blocked Robertson's shot on 57 minutes after Omozusi invited pressure by making a poor header in his own area.
Within two minutes Koroma had two chances to make it a debut to remember - and twice Davis said no. The first time he beat two defenders before seeing Davis palm his shot away and from the resulting corner he fired goalwards from close range - and again Davis was there to deny him. And all in front of the travelling City fans.
If any salt needed to be rubbed into the wounds it came soon after, on 63 minutes, when Stefanovic was adjudged to have fouled Adam Lallana a yard inside the area. The ex-Pompey defender wasn't the last man by any means so when Mr Beeby showed the red card it must have been for something he said - all much to the delight of the Southampton fans.
McGoldrick waited patiently, and then planted the ball past Marshall and City really were up against it, although they were thankful for Otsemobor's clearance off the line to keep out Robertson's shot on the line after Fotheringham had lost possession. Marshall saved well from Lallana and then did an even better job to keep out McGoldrick as City looked close to crumbling.
A game that City had looked capable of winning was now firmly in Southampton's pockets.
Roeder sent on Lupoli for Koroma, hoping for a repeat of the Italian's match-saving contribution at Cardiff - but all the action was in front of Marshall, with McGoldrick turning and volleying over the Scotsman's bar.
Marshall was now busy doing what Davis had done a little earlier, with yet another save from McGoldrick. It was breathless stuff for Saints fans, but City were in danger of having the life dragged out of them.
Lallana shot wide on 75 minutes after Bertrand had given away possession 25 yards out - just what you don't do against a team with their tails up.
McGoldrick volleyed just wide on 83 minutes, just before Jamie Cureton was given seven minutes of normal time to make his mark for City.
But it was Robertson who should have been on the scoresheet, instead flicking a cross inches wide of Marshall's far post.
Davis had time to confirm his man of the match claims with a save from Lupoli - and that was that.
t Southampton: Davis, James, Perry, Lancashire, Mills, McGoldrick, Robertson, Lallana, Cork, Surman, Pekhart. Subs: Forecast, Wright-Phillips, White, Paterson, Skacel.
t Norwich City: Marshall, Otsemobor, Omozusi, Stefanovic, Grounds, Croft, Russell, Fotheringham, Bertrand, Koroma, Sibierski. Subs: Drury, Cureton, Hoolahan, Lupoli, Nelson.