Something unnatural is happening at The Dell, if Southampton's win on Saturday is anything to judge by. It was their third consecutive Premiership victory, a feat they last achieved three years ago.
It was also their sixth win in seven games, with Carlton Palmer not only scoring his first goal in two years, but being loudly cheered throughout the game. And if any more evidence were needed that some higher power is helping the Saints, Moses was sent to part the waves. Well, not quite, but Barnsley's Adrian Moses was responsible for Southampton opening the scoring.
After two minutes, as Kevin Davies latched on to a pass into the box, Moses bundled him over and conceded a penalty, which Matt Le Tissier converted. Davies, who has been called into the England squad for Thursday's European Under-21 Championship match in Greece, was also involved in the next two goals.
His pass started the move which led to a Matthew Oakley cross being met by Carlton Palmer in the box. Palmer simply had to shoot straight, which he did for once. Then, after 35 minutes, a team effort involving some Le Tissier skill and a David Hirst flick-on culminated in Davies driving the ball home. Barnsley pulled one back from a Jovo Bosancic penalty two minutes later, but it never looked like putting them back in contention.
Their depleted side, without Neil Thompson, Neil Redfearn, Georgi Hristov and Ashley Ward, rarely attacked, and, despite fielding six defenders, did not defend. The match was sealed eight minutes into the second half when Le Tissier dispossessed a hapless Ales Krizan, and fed Hirst, who scored.
The Southampton manager, Dave Jones, was especially pleased with Carlton Palmer's performance. "It's good that he covers every inch of turf because his first touch is so crap," he said.
With his side starting to gel into something approaching a promising unit, he can afford to joke at the moment. The same cannot be said for his counterpart, Danny Wilson, whose team have conceded 40 goals this season, 24 of them in their last five away games. "I'm very annoyed at the team today," he said. "They showed a lack of spirit and a lack of commitment. If we go down, we've got to go down with a fight. Today we went with a whimper."
Goals: Le Tisser, pen (3) 1-0; Palmer (5) 2-0; Davies (35) 3-0; Bosancic, pen (37) 3-1; Hirst (53) 4-1.
Southampton (4-3-1-2): Jones; Benali, Lundekvam, Monkou, Dodd; Oakley, Richardson, Palmer; Le Tissier (Slater, 82); Hirst (Basham, 82), Davies. Substitutes not used: Todd; Williams, Taylor (gk).
Barnsley (4-4-2): Watson; Eaden, Moses, Shirtliff (Sheridan, h/t), De Zeeuw; Krizan (Barnard, 63), Bullock, Tinkler, Bosancic; Hendrie (ten Heuvel, 55), Liddell. Substitutes not used: Marcelle, Leese (gk).
Referee: G Ashby (Worcester).
Bookings: Southampton: Le Tissier, Monkou. Barnsley: De Zeeuw, Bosancic, Tinkler.
Man of the match: Palmer.
Attendance: 15,018.Reuse content