A first Premier League goal for Nathan Tella was the highlight of a comfortable afternoon’s work for Southampton as they ran out 3-1 winners against an already-relegated Fulham side.
Ralph Hasenhuttl made two changes to the side which beat Crystal Palace last time out, the first of which was forced upon him as Jan Bednarek failed to recover from an injury he sustained in that game. In came Mohammed Salisu. The second change saw the continued rotation of keepers that Hasenhuttl has been using all season long. This time it was Alex McCarthy who found himself in-between the sticks despite Fraser Forster’s penalty save in midweek.
Ward-Prowse set-pieces continue to cause issues:
The tale of the first half was to be expected. Fulham, relegated after losing last time out, showed good heart and determination but lacked the quality to cause the Saints’ any real danger. Southampton looked in control and were playing with a real freedom after securing their place in the league for next season.
It took a bit of quality from the boot of James Ward-Prowse to open the scoring just before the half-hour mark. His set-piece was whipped into the box and, as every Fulham defender failed to clear, Che Adams instinctively half-volleyed it home from four yards out. This is the striker’s 9th league goal this season as he looks to be cementing himself as a key figure in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s plans for the next campaign.
Tella shines in second half:
The second half followed a similar pattern but this time, now a goal behind, Fulham pushed for the equaliser. In doing so they left themselves open at the back.
On the hour mark, Nathan Tella was on hand to exploit this and score his first Premier League goal. His tap in followed neat build up play by the Saints which eventually resulted in Kyle Walker-Peters drilling a perfectly weighted low cross into the path of the young forward who couldn’t miss. The goal clearly meant a lot to Tella who has struggled with injury in the past but is now looking like a future prospect that Hasenhuttl is very keen on developing.
Fulham did have some joy in the game however. Eighteen year old Fabio Carvalho pulled one back on his Premier League debut. A lapse in concentration from Jack Stephens allowed the winger in behind the Saints defence and he made no mistake in dispatching a powerful effort in off the crossbar. Game on.
Despite the hope that goal gave Fulham, less than 10 minutes later, Southampton put the game to bed. Theo Walcott, who had just come off the bench, dispatched from the edge of the box after a neat back-heel from the man of the moment Nathan Tella. The shot took a slight deflection but Walcott won’t mind as he’s been out of favour lately so this goal will do him no harm in his bid to be involved in the last few games of the season.
This is the first time the Saints have won back-to-back league games this year and sends the club up to 13th in the league. Up next for Southampton is their last home game of the season as they welcome Leeds to St Mary’s – a third home game in as many Premier League ties.
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl was keen to congratulate Nathan Tella on his first goal for the club:
‘He’s always smiling. He sprints with a smile on his face because he likes to sprint.This is an important season for him. We tried to give him game time. The way we’ve tried to develop him is good.’
‘He’s the biggest talent we have at the moment. He had a bad injury. I see him performing like he does at the moment, I enjoy watching it. Big praise for the academy.’
FT: SOUTHAMPTON 3-1 Fulham (Adams 27′, Tella 60′, Walcott 82′) (Carvalho 75′)
Southampton: McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Vestergaard, Stephens, Salisu, Minamino (Walcott 76′), Ward-Prowse, Armstrong (Diallo 78′), Redmond, Adams, Ings (Tella 58′). Unused subs: Forster, Djenepo, Obefemi, Ramsay, N’Lundulu, Ferry.
Fulham: Areola, Tete, Anderson, Adarabioyo, Carvalho, Reed, Aina (Bryan 62′), Reid, Onomah (Maja 76′), Zambo Anguissa (Lookman 63′), Cavaleiro. Unused subs: Hector, Odoi, Mitrovic, Rodak, Ream, Loftus-Cheek.
Wessex Scene Man of the Match: Nathan Tella (Southampton).
Referee: Craig Pawson.