Two goals in the final 13 minutes preserved Southampton's five-point Championship lead and underlined this as their best start to a season for 90 years. Just as a previously woeful Coventry side appeared capable of halting their progress, an exhilarating contest swung back in the visitors' favour thanks largely to Guly do Prado.
Not all South Americans make it to Bonfire Night still in short sleeves and gloveless but the 29-year-old Brazilian striker looked at home in scoring the decisive third goal to add to the two he had fashioned earlier. "That's what he looks like most weeks," said Southampton's manager, Nigel Adkins. "He's a good player and we totally dominated the first half."
Surprisingly, Southampton had failed to win away in the League since mid-August. They nevertheless started with great confidence and Richard Chaplow miscued horribly wide from the best of several opportunities when Rickie Lambert picked him out close in by nodding down Frazer Richardson's centre. The breakthrough took 34 minutes. Guly found space on the left and, although Chaplow was initially denied by Nathan Cameron's block, the midfielder drove the loose ball left-footed under Joe Murphy. Adam Lallana headed straight at the goalkeeper before the lead was doubled. Guly went past Cameron along the byline and the impressive Lallana, side-footing in from close range, was not the only player who could have capitalised on the pull-back.
Coventry, whose record this season now stands at two victories from 17 games, were abject in a first half in which they failed to trouble Kelvin Davis. Out of nothing, though, they rallied to expose some brittleness in the goalkeeper.
Sammy Clingan's stinging 30-yard free-kick was fumbled wide two minutes after the resumption and from the captain's resulting right-wing corner, Southampton's defenders allowed the ball to drop for Lukas Jutkiewicz to tuck away.
A game so firmly under control was up for grabs as Clingan drove powerfully wide and the substitute Clive Platt steered home a 70th minute equaliser following another Jutkiewicz advance. Coventry introduced Jordan Willis for a 26-minute debut at right-back but it was Southampton's former Sky Blues full-back Daniel Fox who provided the outstanding diagonal cross that Guly brilliantly headed home for his seventh goal.
Steve de Ridder then punished Murphy's hesitancy by slotting home Lambert's centre to secure Southampton's win. "I'm proud of the go we had in the second half," said Coventry's manager Andy Thorn. "But, with young boys, you get tired minds."
Coventry (4-3-1-2): Murphy; Keogh, McPake (Willis, 64), Cameron, Christie; Thomas, Clingan, Deegan (Bell, h-t); McSheffrey; McDonald (Platt, 67), Jutkiewicz.
Southampton (4-4-2): Davis; Richardson, Fonte, Hooiveld, Fox; Chaplow (Hammond, 74), Schneiderlin, Cork, Lallana; Lambert, Guly.
Referee: Michael Naylor.
Man of the match: Guly (Southampton)