Championship - Hungry Foxes stifle Saints
Southampton suffered their first consecutive home losses since November 2008 as they fell to a 2-0 Championship defeat against Leicester City at St Mary's, with David Nugent and Matt Mills on target for the visitors.
The inconsistent visitors struck twice in a 12-minute spell during the first half as Nigel Pearson came back to haunt his old side to clinch the three points which bring them up to 13th in the table.
The Saints struggled to leave first gear for most of the contest, and it was their opponents who had the lion’s share of the close calls later on in the game – including a Paul Konchesky free-kick which cannoned off the near post.
The Foxes did a good job from the onset of pressuring the home side into errors, but Southampton had the first real chance of the game on 12 minutes courtesy of Neil Danns’s errant back pass putting David Connolly through on goal.
The Irish striker rushed his opportunity rather than picking his spot in the one-on-one, his tame low strike going straight into the grasp of Kasper Schmeichel.
Three minutes later and Leicester led courtesy of a piece of magic from Nugent, who upon receiving a great long forward pass from Mills out on the left, edged inside of Dan Harding to find the space for a delightful curling opener into the far bottom corner.
Nugent almost doubled his tally with a strike which went wide of the very same upright on 24 before Pearson’s men doubled their lead two minutes later.
After Southampton failed to clear their lines from a Leicester corner, Sean St Ledger turned well and floated in a cross from the left which centre-back partner Mills headed past Kelvin Davis for 2-0.
Nigel Adkins’s men were at sixes and sevens in a very unfamiliar position on the St Mary's turf, and it should have been made even worse by a Foxes break just after the half-hour mark only for Lloyd Dyer’s first touch to let him down after Jermaine Beckford’s through ball into the penalty area.
Dean Hammond headed a free-kick delivery inches wide of Schmeichel’s far post while Jack Cork fired over the bar as they searched for a way back into the contest in the latter stages of the half.
It was not all great news in the first 45 minutes for the visitors, however, as Paul Gallagher pulled up shortly before the break and had to be replaced by debutant Daniel Drinkwater following his move from Manchester United.
Nugent came close to replicating his cracking opening goal six minutes into the second half, only to go wide of the far post with the opposite foot, while Schmeichel had to be on top form to keep out Hammond’s header from a free-kick moments later.
The best chance of a second-half goal came on 63 minutes after substitute Steve De Ridder brought down Richie Wellens just behind his own ‘D’, resulting in a delicious Konchesky free-kick which smacked off the upright.
And to make matters worse for Southampton, skipper Jos Hooiveld was withdrawn halfway through the second period with an injury, with Frazer Richardson on in his place.
Only two sides who sat atop the Championship table at the turn of the calendar year have failed to win promotion in recent times, but Adkins and the club’s fanbase will hope the Saints can arrest their recent slump sooner rather than later to avoid making it three.