Match report posted by Richard (view the full thread on the forum )
Trips to Southampton in the past have always been a nightmare for me - I was first at the Dell for the 5-1 thumping in the Premier, and returned a couple of years later for that FA Cup replay. All that was forgotten tonight as a patched up Town side gave a determined, resilient, resolute performance to record a superb victory on their first visit to St Mary's (well, the new stadium there at least).
And though Saints fans will be cursing hitting the woodwork twice, having another cleared off the line, and a couple of superb saves by Phil Smith, Swindon created good chances themselves - after a first half when they were mostly under the cosh, they came out for the second as the better side.
The vast majority of the chances in the first forty five were Southampton's - obviously conscious that they needed the win to stand any chance of catching us in the promotion race. A thirty yard free-kick from Lambert fizzed just over and onto the top of the net - deceiving some into thinking it had gone in when it bounced down onto the back of the net. Saints forced a superb point blank save from Smith from a header, and also had the ball in the net when a shot fizzed onto the post, leaving Smith stranded, and though Barnard tapped the ball home, his celebrations were halted by an offside flag.
Moments later, Southampton had another glorious chance, when Smith could only parry a close range effort, the ball rebounded to another Saints player, who luckily didn't make good contact, and Greer was able to stop it on the line.
Despite having their backs to the wall, the Town were having some joy on the counter, and they fashioned an excellent chance of their own when Austin was threaded through behind the defence by Ferry. It looked to me as though he struck his shot left-footed, and as we all expected the net to ripple, the ball flashed low and wide. Bugger.
At the other end, Scott Cuthbert became the latest addition to the injury list, pulling up with what looked like a knee problem, and after initially trying to continue, he soon succumbed and retired to the sidelines very gingerly. Not good news, the only option was to replace him with Lecsinel Jean-Francois, who was superb.
On a lighter note, one Saints player did have a particularly scorching effort on goal - the ball leaving the pitch over the touchline about thirty yards out. I don't think I've ever seen a shot more off target.
Whatever was said at half-time had the desired effect, as the Town were transformed from a team very much on the back foot, to playing their neat, passing game and pushing the Saints back. Gradually chances came our way - Austin forced a good save after connecting with a cross from the left, and also had another effort blocked which fell to Ferry - and though I am reliably informed that he really should have hit the net (my view was blocked), the linesman's flag was up anyway.
Just ten minutes into the half though came the breakthrough. I think it was Marshall who found Austin in acres of space having sprung the offside trap - it certainly looked offside from behind the goal. The flag stayed down though, and Austin was cool enough to pass it around the onrushing Davis to his left, run around him on the other side, then slide the ball into the empty net. Cue pandemonium in the away end.
And we could have added to the lead - Austin did well in getting to the bye-line, and had his cutback not been blocked, it would have been a certain goal for Ward - on the other side of the pitch, Ward similarly did well in little space, and his cross was just out of the reach of Marshall. Ward ran onto another through ball and planted an effort just high and wide.
As the half wore on though, you could see the Town were tiring. Ward pulled up with what looked like another hamstring problem, but had to continue as Marshall succumbed to cramp to be replaced by Pompey loanee Ritchie. Southampton were throwing caution to the wind and brought on Papa Waigo and David Connelly up front (though they weren't quite in the 4-4-3 formation that is mentioned on the official site!!). To be honest though, they didn't have anywhere near the number or quality of chances they had created in the first half, and you could perhaps tell it wasn't going to be their day when Lambert rattled another long range curling effort off the crossbar.
As we entered the final few minutes, Ferry was booked for what looked like a tough but fair 50/50 - and very shortly afterwards received his marching orders for another slide challenge that to be fair probably deserved a booking. Timlin then replaced Ward as the Town clung on for the final few minutes to secure a superb victory. To a man, the effort throughout the team was absolutely magnificent. Christ knows what sort of a side we're going to be able to put out at the weekend against Norwich, but if we show as much commitment as tonight we won't go far wrong. Best away trip in a long time, great night.