Nigel: Performance Deserved Goals

By SFC Media time Wed 08 Aug Club

First Team Manager Nigel Adkins said the performance of his Saints side in Tuesday night’s draw at Bristol City deserved to yield more goals.

The side selected at Ashton Gate strung together some exciting attacking moves in the first half but trailed at the break to Jon Stead’s 36th-minute opener.

Billy Sharp came off the bench to net an injury-time leveller and ensure Saints did not leave Bristol empty-handed, though Adkins felt that the quality of the team’s play meant they deserved more than a solitary goal.

“I thought it was a good game,” the gaffer told Saints Player at full time. 

“We could have scored several goals but there is no divine right to have it all your own way.

“There were lots of positives to take today – I'm very pleased with the first half, how we started and pressed the ball. 

"We have been working on a formation and I thought we were very assertive in that in the first half, which is very pleasing. 

“It is just a shame we didn't score in that period – we forced a couple of good saves but went into half time a goal down to their one opportunity.”

Incredibly, it seemed that the Robins – who were one of only two teams to beat Saints home and away last season – were going to hang on for a smash-and-grab victory as the encounter entered its closing stages.

But Sharp was on hand to latch onto Rickie Lambert’s cushioned header and poke past Dean Gerken deep into added time for his fifth goal of pre-season.

“He's a goal scorer, top and bottom,” Adkins said of the former Doncaster striker. 

“He works hard and he scores goals, so we are pleased with him.

“But for that final little pass, Jay Rodriguez, Jason Puncheon, Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana could have scored some goals, too.

“We are trying to arm ourselves with as many opportunities to win games of football as possible," he continued.

“We salvaged something from the game with Billy getting on the end of a Rickie knockdown – we passed and passed the whole game and in the end it was a long ball to Rickie that got us the goal. 

“It's pre season and it's not about the results – it's about how we play, and we played with a very assertive 4-3-3 today.”

A positive evening was soured by an injury to Jack Cork, who was making his first appearance since returning from Olympic duty with the Great Britain squad.

The midfielder replaced James Ward-Prowse at half time to make his first Saints appearance of this pre-season, but was forced off with nine minutes to go after a nasty-looking collision in the Robins half.

“Jack Cork has been away with the Olympic team and hasn't played any preseason at all, but unfortunately we have lost him for a bit of time now,” said Adkins.

“It was a bad challenge on him and he’s gone over on his ankle, which is disappointing.”

More encouraging, though, was the half-game showing of summer signing Steven Davis as he followed up his cameo debut in Saturday’s win over Wolves.

“He got 20 minutes the other day and 45 minutes today because he has to get more game time to improve his fitness,” Nigel assessed of the midfielder’s increased involvement.

“He knows that and we know that. He is working very hard at this moment in time because he is a great character. 

“You could see his composure on the football and the work ethic that he has got. We know that when we get him up to full speed he will be a real asset.”

To watch Nigel’s full post-match interview with Saints Player, click here.

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