Match Report: Jason Puncheon blow against Reading lifts Southampton out of danger zone

Southampton 1 Reading 0

st mary's

Southampton were beaten to last season's Championship title by Reading, but there is no way they would swap places with the Royals today.

Saints are adjusting better to the higher level after a poor start in which they won only one of their first 11 League games, and yesterday's victory, thanks to Jason Puncheon's fourth goal of the season on the hour, puts them six points ahead of Brian McDermott's team, who have still won only one Premier League match all season. More significantly it moves them out the bottom three.

For Reading it was a case of the famine after the feast as they failed to score against the team with the division's worst defensive record only seven days after putting three past Manchester United, although that statistic is misleading, with the Saints back four tightening up significantly in recent weeks. This was only their second clean sheet of the season, but it was their second in four matches.

"It has been a big step up but we are improving all the time and we're defensively more resolute," the manager Nigel Adkins said.

Reading have a game in hand, and it comes at Sunderland on Tuesday, which becomes even more significant with the Black Cats now one place but four points better off, although McDermott tried to downplay it. "It's a game of football that we want to try and win," he said. "I was disappointed today. When we went behind we didn't respond as we normally would do. It was a one-off, a game that you normally don't get from us but that does happen in football, unfortunately."

It took time to warm up, and it was 20 minutes before Adam Federici had a save to make, pushing away Rickie Lambert's curled shot.

Reading struggled to make an impression until Jay Tabb launched a solo run from midfield that took him to the edge of the penalty area, and Kelvin Davis, replacing the injured Paulo Gazzaniga in the Southampton goal, could only push the ball away. As Tabb went for the rebound, Jack Cork appeared to clip his heel but referee Jonathan Moss declined to award a penalty, and he made an even more eccentric decision at the other end, disallowing a header by Puncheon for an offence by Maya Yoshida, who actually appeared to have been pushed by Federici.

Injury was added to insult after 40 minutes when Adam Lallana was forced off with a knee injury, and it almost got worse for Saints on the stroke of half-time as Hal Robson-Kanu's header struck Davis's post.

But after 60 minutes Southampton got the goal their more enterprising play deserved as Lambert's pass sent Nathaniel Clyne away down the right. He played his pass into the path of Puncheon (below left), who hit a low shot beyond Federici.

Reading fans waited in vain for a spirited response, but although Adam Le Fondre headed wide from Shaun Cummings' cross, Clyne and substitute Guly Do Prado, twice, went closer.

Adkins hailed Puncheon, who made only four starts last season after falling out with Nicola Cortese, the chairman, and was loaned to Queens Park Rangers, but has now become a key component of the team.

"He had a perfectly good goal disallowed but the one he did score was exceptional," Adkins said. "He has worked ever so hard, improved all the time and all the plaudits he gets, he deserves.

"It shows how well people can do given the opportunity. He is reaping the rewards, as are the team."

Southampton (4-4-2): Davis; Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Shaw; Puncheon, Cork, Schneiderlin, Lallana (Ramirez, 40); Lambert, Rodriguez (Do Prado, 78).

Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Cummings, Mariappa, Morrison (Pearce, 65), Shorey; Robson-Kanu (McCleary, 76), Leigertwood, Tabb (Hunt 69), McAnuff; Le Fondre, Roberts.

Referee: Jonathan Moss

Man of the match: Puncheon (Southampton) Match rating: 6/10

News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own