Rabu, 31 Oktober 2012

Saints second string fall flat

Nigel Adkins: Pressure on

Nigel Adkins made 11 changes to his side for the Capital One Cup clash with Leeds, but was given very little food for thought as the Championship side secured a quarter-final berth with a 3-0 victory.

It was hard to list one Saints player who started the game and emerged with credit, with debutant substitute Lloyd Isgrove the only player to draw praise from his manager.

And, despite shouldering the blame for the loss on the basis of his decision to field a new side, Adkins did concede that those who played will have to carry the consequences as well.

"It was a poor result for us," he said.

"It was a very attacking formation on paper, but on the pitch you have got to go and produce it.

"You're playing for Southampton Football Club, so every game matters. We've got supporters who have travelled, and we've put a team out that I expected to win this game.

"I expect the players to go and perform, so there's obviously going to be c onsequences of the result and performance for many people.

"We've come out to win a game of football. On paper and in theory that was possible, but we haven't produced."

The Saints were hardly allowed to perform by an on-song Leeds, who followed up their third-round defeat of Everton with another top-flight scalp.

Michael Tonge got the ball rolling with a deserved first-half opener, before El-Hadji Diouf and Luciano Becchio's penalty wrapped things up inside the last three minutes.

Having sat on a one-goal lead for the best part of an hour, United should have been looking over their shoulders. It was anything but.

It took Saints until the 70th minute to register a shot at goal - even then it was well wide - as Leeds put their patchy league form behind them in a competition manager Neil Warnock is desperate to win.

"We have talked about getting as far as we can and if we get beat, we get beat," he said.

"I haven't really tried in the cup for a few years."

Warnock was referring to his Sheffield United side's run to the last four of both the FA and League Cups in 2003.

Since then he has shared Adkins' views on rotation, and had sympathy with his opposite number on Tuesday night.

"I've been in Nigel's position at QPR, where you wonder about your team and your Premier League position is more important financially," he said.

"It is a conundrum, but we can only beat who is put in front of us."

Leeds have been drawn at home in all four rounds so far and have a 12-1 aggregate score in their favour.

They are now just a win away from the semi-finals and Warnock is hoping for a meeting with local rivals Bradford.

"That would be nice," he said. "It's great that Bradford have got through, and what about Arsenal coming back like that (beating Reading 7-5, having been 4-0 down)? We have got to be fortunate with the draw."

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