Grecians no match for rampant Saints
2011 began with a heavy defeat for Exeter City as they were given a master class in attacking football by Southampton.
Guly Do Prado scored a goal in each half to put the hosts in full control. Adam Lallana`s placed shot and Lee Barnard`s low drive completed the scoring on a dominant afternoon the Saints.
Having not played a game for a fortnight a lack of match sharpness was evident throughout as City struggled to find their best form.
The only change from that game two weeks ago was a re-call for Paul Jones in goal with Atrur Krysiak making way, and Jones was almost called into early action on two occasions. Jose Fonte`s angled header bounced inches wide of the right hand post and Lallana fired over from a tight angle.
City were soon creating chances of their own, David Noble blazed over with a speculative effort from distance and Scott Golbourne hooked over when well placed from Jamie Cureton`s cutback.
Midway through an even first half City suffered a blow that they would never recover from. A mazy run from the lively Lallana was ended by a timely intervention from Richard Duffy but the ball broke kindly for Southampton and Do Prado found himself with a free run on goal. He calmly put his side in front slotting high to Jones` left.
Further openings followed for the hosts. Morgan Schneiderlin went close from a well worked corner and Lambert saw his fierce drive beaten out by Jones.
Liam Sercombe`s dipping effort was touched over the bar by Kelvin Davis but chances were few and far between in a testing first half for the Grecians.
Chasing the game City tried to push high up the pitch and take the game to their opponents but the tactic was fraught with danger and left gaps that Southampton were more than good enough to exploit.
This was highlighted when a second goal arrived for the hosts. Possession was lost with several City committed forward in numbers and Lallana raced clear before squaring to Do Prado to tap home.
The two goal cushion relaxed Southampton and their creative players began dominate the game, creating chances at will as City`s ragged defence was torn to pieces in the final quarter of the match.
Lallana grabbed the goal his performance deserved on 66 minutes. Cutting in off the left flank he neatly beat Jones from the edge of the area with a precise low finish.
By now Southampton were treating their fans to an exhibition of their skills and putting in a performance that will only enhance their promotion credentials.
Lallana nearly added to his tally but he saw his lobbed effort clawed off the line by Jones.
Jones can hold his head high as hey enjoyed a solid game in goal on his return to the side, no blame could be laid at his door for any goal.
Do Prado must have though he had completed his hat-trick when he rounded Jones and sent the ball goal wards but Ryan Harley had made up ground from midfield be clear off the line.
Substitute Barnard had the final say ten minutes from time, he was allowed to turn in the box an duly drove the ball home to compound a miserable afternoon for City.
In truth the 4-0 score line was a fair reflection on the gulf between the two sides but City will have to dust themselves down quickly as league leaders Brighton visit St James` Park on Bank Holiday Monday.
City: P Jones, Duffy, Taylor, B Jones (Nardiello), Tully (Thomson). Golbourne, Sercombe, Noble, Harley, Logan, Cureton (O`flynn)