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Ruthless Saints show no nerves
IT was a night expected to be unbearably tense and nervous.
Yet for the 3,438 travelling Saints fans at London Road it was anything but.
One third of the ground was filled with visiting supporters last night, and it must have felt like a home game for them, as Nigel Adkins’ men brushed Peterborough aside with ease.
It took just five minutes for Saints to provide their travelling army with the perfect start, as Jos Hooiveld headed them in front.
It was a goal that instantly calmed all of the nerves that had been building since the 3-1 defeat to Reading last Friday.
The Saints fans packed into the dilapidated old terrace at one end of London Road bounced up and down jubilantly.
Chants of “We are going up” and “Up the Football League we go” reverberated round the rickety stadium.
The celebrations got even wilder in the tenth minute, as Billy Sharp doubled the lead.
While Saints might have twice blown a two-goal lead at this ground last season, in an epic 4-4 draw, there was no sense that the same fate would befall them this time.
Nigel Adkins’ side were in cruise control, and the visiting fans were revelling in it.
In fact, they were getting so carried away that, for a spell, chants of “We are top of the league” were echoing out from the away end.
Either the supporters were in need of some rudimentary maths lessons, or someone was feeding out duff info on the Reading score.
The Royals, at that stage, were being held 0-0 at home to Nottingham Forest – a scoreline that kept them a point ahead of Saints as it stood.
But of more interest to those associated with the red and white were events at Ashton Gate, where third-placed West Ham were taking on Bristol City.
News soon filtered through that James Tomkins had given the Hammers the lead midway through the half.
But there was a noticeable increase in noise from the Saints fans shortly after Bristol City equalised on the half hour mark.
They could have asked for little more, as the scores at all three grounds remained the same come half-time.
Although Peterborough came out pressing after the break, Sharp soon struck on the counter to send the Saints fans wild – and in no doubt of the outcome at London Road.
All eyes, and ears, were now firmly on events at Ashton Gate.
The Saints fans were singing relentlessly as they awaited further news from elsewhere, and Tommy Rowe’s late consolation for Peterborough did little to quieten the visiting support.
At the final whistle, the players saluted the efforts of their fans, and a cheer went up as news of West Ham’s draw at Bristol City was confirmed.
Reading’s late winner against Forest diminishes dreams of the title, but for Saints the Premier League is now within touching distance.