Hull breached as Saints sink City

Posted by Chris Rann

Southampton's 1-0 victory at Hull on Tuesday night represented an extremely valuable away win.

Despite mauling the Tigers in the game at St. Mary's earlier in the season, a midweek trip to the North East to face a side with a very good home record wasn't exactly a thrilling prospect.

In the postmatch interviews Steve Bruce was humble enough to accept that his side were bettered by a deserving victor. A far cry from the usual excuse-seeking managerial interview, I actually thought Hull were slightly better value than Bruce did.

In the opening exchanges, it did look like it might be another rampage for Saints as they carved out two clear-cut chances early on. They both fell to Rickie Lambert and, uncharacteristically, he failed to convert either. The first one in particular was a "bread and butter" Lambert opportunity and he will have kicked himself afterwards.

Usually in a situation that sees Saints fail to take decent chances they are punished for it later on. Hull certainly had their opportunities but Artur Boruc was equal to them.

It was with some relief then and a sense of irony that when Saints did finally take a chance, they took it twice. Jose Fonte's lashed effort, after a game of pinball wizard in the Hull box, crossed the line before being cleared straight to Lambert -- who made no mistake second time, smashing it into the back of the net.

Statistically, Saints looked far more dominant than they perhaps were, but 63 percent possession in an away game is not to be scoffed at. They also bettered their opponents in the air (61 percent success in aerial battles), something a little out of character for the team. Out-shooting their hosts too, Saints will look back on the game and wonder how they didn't score more goals, having been denied by the woodwork twice and had several efforts blocked on the line.

There was a clear shout for a Saints penalty, too, as Ahmed Elmohamady appeared to dribble the ball like a basketball in the box. The referee was looking straight at it and immediately waved away any claims for handball. One of those where you have to make your own mind up, but for me a definite penalty.

Before last Saturday I would have been happy to take four points from the games with Stoke and Hull; I envisaged the points coming in reverse to which they did, but that doesn't really matter.

A win on Saturday in the FA Cup fifth round, and this will become some month for Saints.

Keep the faith.

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