Lallana gets Saints over line in style

Southampton 4 Coventry City 0: Southampton's stand-out player completes a rout that ensures his side's promotion to Premier League

st mary's stadium

Southampton have stumbled rather than raced towards the promotion finishing line in recent weeks, but they crossed it in style yesterday. A stroll against relegated Coventry sealed Saints' return to the Premier League after an absence of seven years that had included administration and a descent to League One.

All that was missing was a goal from Rickie Lambert, the Championship's top scorer, but the biggest crowd of the season at St Mary's was happy with a result more reminiscent of their team's early-season home form rather than its springtime nerves.

Nigel Adkins, the manager, has followed in the footsteps of Paul Lambert of Norwich City by securing back-to-back promotions in his first two seasons at the club and will hope for similar success when he makes his own debut in the technical areas of the top flight.

"We've put a lot of hard work in, a lot of effort and we've achieved something special," he said. "Great credit to the players, the coaching staff, the support staff, everybody, they deserve every plaudit because they put the hours in. We have achieved and we have to look at a new set of goals now."

Never out of the top two, Southampton began the season where they had left off in 2010-11, extending a long unbeaten home record that compensated for some unconvincing results on the road.

Lambert adjusted to the higher division without difficulty, scoring 27 League goals. Their other stand-out players have been yesterday's man of the match Adam Lallana, an academy product of obvious class who signalled last season that he would not be following Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out of the club by signing a long-term contract, and goalkeeper Kelvin Davis, who had a torrid season at the top with Sunderland but has starred this season, keeping 18 clean sheets. "There is no doubt this club is ready for the Premier League," he said. "I can't wait to be there again."

Reinforcements will be required in some positions, but Adkins is relishing the challenge. "Southampton football club are back in the Premier League, it's a wonderful thought," he said. "We've got to enjoy this, but plans are already in place from a structure point of view. It's a Premier League football club, so a lot of work has gone on behind the scenes. We're back in the big league and we've got to give ourselves an opportunity to dowell in it.

"You look at the way we've played over the past two seasons. I want us to play football, to keep passing the ball as we have done, which is going to be challenging, but it is possible – it has been proven. The chairman, Nicola Cortese, has got massive ambitions for the football club, but for now we've got to enjoy the moment."

With hindsight, it was inconceivable that Adkins' men would not secure promotion by beating the Sky Blues, although there was understandable tension after successive reverses at home to Reading and away to Middlesbrough.

Fans fearing a last-day catastrophe had endured a week of imagining worst-case scenarios, but the uncertainty lasted for only the 16 minutes in which Coventry put up a serious struggle and might have taken the lead. Morgan Schneiderlin had to intervene as Conor Thomas lined up a shot and Davis saved well from Gary McSheffrey as Coventry tried much too hard as far as the fingernails of the home fans were concerned, and Carl Baker wasted a chance when given the freedom of the penalty area.

The nerves were settled when Billy Sharp got a late touch on Lallana's half-volley to deflect the ball past Joe Murphy, the Coventry goalkeeper, after Jose Fonte had brought the ball out of defence and set up Guly Do Prado's cross. Two minutes later, Fonte dived to meet Daniel Fox's corner from the right, his header bouncing off the turf and into the roof of the net. Fonte's partner in central defence, Jos Hooiveld, made it 3-0 from close range after some penalty-area pinball on the hour and even the most sceptical were finally believers. Lallana scored soon after from a similar distance after Lambert had nodded the ball across goal.

"I told the boys to use the game as a learning curve and a guide for where we want to get to because what has happened to us happened to them," Andy Thorn, the Coventry manager, said. "They have done it and we have to do the same. Well done to them."

Southampton (4-4-2): Davis; Butterfield, Fonte, Hooiveld, Fox; Do Prado, Schneiderlin, Hammond (Cork, 36), Lallana (Puncheon, 81); Sharp (De Ridder, 76), Lambert.

Coventry (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Clarke, Willis (Henderson, 72), Cranie, Hussey; Norwood, Bigirimana (Jeffers h-t); Baker, Thomas, McSheffrey (Roberts, 34); McDonald.

Referee Anthony Taylor.

Man of the match Lallana (Southampton).

Match rating 7/10.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas