Southampton move out of the bottom three with narrow win over Reading
By Tim Oscroft. Last Updated: December 8, 2012 9:46pm
Jason Puncheon scores the game's only goal
Southampton moved out of the bottom three with a narrow but fully-deserved 1-0 victory over Reading.
Jason Puncheon drilled the ball across Adam Federici in the 61st minute for the only goal of the game, having seen a first-half header harshly chalked off for a foul on the Reading keeper.
Brian McDermott's side posed little threat, with their best chance coming in first-half stoppage time when Hal Robson-Kanu headed against the post.
Southampton made two changes to the side that started at Anfield, Kelvin Davis replacing the injured Paulo Gazzaniga and Jay Rodriguez in for Gaston Ramirez, who had spent much of the week in Uruguay following a family bereavement. Reading were unchanged form the side that started the defeat to Manchester United last week.
Best of the match
- Man of the match: Jason Puncheon posed a constant threat on the right flank and fully deserved to claim the decisive goal. He should have been on the score sheet before that but was denied due to a questionable refereeing decision.
- Goal of the match: Lambert and Clyne linked up intelligently and quickly fed Puncheon, who broke in from the right to place his shot perfectly beyond Federici.
- Save of the match: Adam Federici did well to deny Do Prado late on, dropping smartly to his left to keep Reading interested.
- Moment of the match: A high quality goal lit up an afternoon that otherwise showed why these sides are at the wrong end of the table.
- Referee watch: Jon Moss' decision to disallow a Southampton goal in the first half for a Yoshida push on Federici was harsh, and the Leeds-based official seemed content to let a lot go, which at least kept the game flowing.
The home side looked the more likely to open the scoring early on, but they failed to really hurt Reading despite their vastly superior possession.
Puncheon proved to be a nuisance for Southampton, putting in several decent crosses in the opening stages with Morgan Schneiderlin having the best chance when he was just unable to get on top the ball at the near post.
Adam Lallana, skippering the side despite the recall of club captain Davis, showed why he is said to be attracting a lot of interest from other clubs, driving a half-volley chance straight at Federici.
Jay Tabb was Reading's unlikely goal threat, making a couple of breaks from midfield and shooting straight at a largely underemployed Davis.
But the home side looked to have broken the deadlock after 33 minutes when Puncheon rose at the far post to nod a corner home. Referee Jon Moss immediately blew for an infringement, penalising Maya Yoshida for a push on Federici, but the decision looked a harsh one.
However the visitors nearly made amends for a toothless first half in stoppage time when Robson-Kanu's header struck the left-hand upright. Davis was rooted to the spot, but a goal for Reading at this stage would have been hard on Southampton.
Lallana's impressive first half display ended early when he limped off with a knee injury, but Southampton shrugged off the loss of their talismanic midfielder and continued to look much the better side after the break.
Puncheon had already forced Federici into a good save when he finally gave his side the lead they had deserved. Rickie Lambert fed Nathaniel Clyne, and the right back in turn passed to Puncheon, who broke in from the right to shoot low across Federici into the bottom corner of the net.
Jobi McAnuff curled a shot wide of Davis' left-hand post in response, and Robson-Kanu put a weak effort on the turn straight at the Southampton keeper, but it was the hosts who continued to look likelier to score.
Puncheon drilled a low shot from long range wide before substitute Guly Do Prado found the roof of the net from distance. The Brazilian had another chance in the closing stages, but was denied by a fine save from Federici down to his left.
Saints continued to dominate and were good value for their win, whereas Reading ended the game looking at a long, hard winter with a crucial trip to fellow strugglers Sunderland looming on Tuesday.
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|5||Shots on Target||2|
|10||Shots off Target||4|
|64.2||1st Half Poss.||35.8|
|68.9||2nd Half Poss.||31.1|
Barclays Premier League
|8||West Bromwich Albion||38||49|
|10||West Ham United||38||46|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||38||25|
Southampton v Reading
Reading chairman John Madejski has rubbished reports that manager Brian McDermott's job is under threat.
Southampton winger Jason Puncheon has well and truly buried the hatchet with club executive chairman Nicola Cortese.
Jason Puncheon says Southampton have now matured in the Premier League after Saturday's win hoisted them to 15th spot.