Southampton moved towards Premier League safety with a 2-1 win
over Chelsea at St Mary’s.
First-half goals from Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert either
side of John Terry’s header ensured Saints moved up to 13th with a
deserved victory despite late Blues pressure.
The result sees Chelsea drop to fourth in the Premier League
table and they remain in danger of dropping out of the Champions
League places with Arsenal now just two points behind in fifth.
Southampton started the brighter and had two early chances with
Rodriguez seeing a sidefooted effort saved comfortably by Petr Cech
before Branislav Ivanovic blocked well from Lambert.
But Ivanovic was caught out by quality movement from Rodriguez
for the opener when he played a crisp one-two with Steven Davis
before slotting the ball calmly past Cech to give Saints the
Fernando Torres, again preferred to Demba Ba in attack, was
struggling to get in the game at the other end but did have a goal
correctly ruled out for handball shortly afterwards.
The European champions were level just after the half-hour mark
when Terry headed home a corner from Marko Marin after Jos Hooiveld
had slipped to allow the Blues skipper space.
This was only Terry’s second Premier League start under Rafael
Benitez but any hopes the goal would kick-start Chelsea’s afternoon
were soon dashed as they were behind again within minutes.
Saints were awarded a free-kick in a good position and Lambert
whipped the ball over Torres in the Chelsea wall, and Cech was
unable to scramble to keep it out of the net.
Kelvin Davis replaced the injured Artur Boruc in the Southampton
goal at the break and the veteran was forced into a good save from
Victor Moses on the hour mark.
Saints remained a threat at the other end and Rodriguez could
have doubled the lead after outwitting Ivanovic down the left
channel but saw his left-footed effort parried by Cech.
It was Chelsea pushing for an equaliser in the closing stages
after Benitez introduced Eden Hazard to provide some impetus but
Southampton held on for the points that ease them towards
The attendance of 13,251 is the highest in League Two this
season and the vast majority were delighted to see on-loan Crystal
Palace forward Jason Banton’s goal wrap up a third straight win for
Sheridan said: “That result was for the supporters. The support
they get for a team fighting relegation is unbelievable. I just
can’t believe it, so that result was for them.”
Banton struck from outside the area after cleverly beating two
City defenders before sending a low angled drive past Artur Krysiak
and in off the post on the stroke of half-time.
Banton has now scored six goals in 11 Argyle appearances since
being drafted in by Sheridan. Sheridan said: “It was very pleasing.
I think we deserved to win.
“I think it was a very good performance in a big derby game
against against a very good passing team who have had some
excellent results away from home. If you let them play they are one
of the best teams in the division and we made that clear to the
players before the game.
“But I thought we kept them quiet for most of the game. I
thought they started well, their first five minutes worried me the
most and (Jamie) Cureton got a chance out of nothing.
“Full credit to my players, their effort to try and get
something out of the game – to win it – has been brilliant. To be
fair to them it has been since I have been here and we have just
got to carrying on doing it.
“Derbies are always tight affairs and you could see the effort
from both sides. The atmosphere was excellent and it’s usually that
little bit of magic which gets you the result.
“Again Jason wasn’t really in the game but the goal was top
drawer. Now we focus on Monday’s game at York because if anything,
that is bigger than this. It’s another massive game for us.”