NEWCASTLE manager Alan Pardew enjoyed his return to St Mary’s – up until the point that the game started.

Pardew was back at the ground on Sunday for the first time since he was sacked as Saints boss in August 2010.

It wasn’t quite the return he would have hoped for, however, with his Magpies side soundly beaten by Nigel Adkins’ team.

Pardew did receive a warm ovation from the home fans before kick-off, and Rickie Lambert made a point of going over and shaking his former manager’s hand at one point during the match.

The 51-year-old admitted it had been a pleasant experience coming back to the club, although that all changed once the clock struck 3pm.

“It was all good up until when it kicked off,” he said, smiling.

“It was nice to see some old friends and nice for the fans to give us a nice ovation but obviously it stopped when they got amongst us.

“They did a good job today and we were unlucky as they had a great result at QPR and their tails were up. Their confidence was there and that made it even more difficult for us.”

Newcastle were no match for Saints, who dominated the vast majority of the game.

Pardew conceded that his team were second best by some distance, although he was left to rue Vurnon Anita’s failure to beat Paulo Gazzaniga when sent clean through in the second half with the visitors trailing by just one goal.

“It was tough for us,” said Pardew. “I thought the intensity of Southampton was hard for us to cope with.

“There’s no doubt we’re lacking a bit of confidence, and that showed in that first half.

“Second half we came out with a renewed vigour and spirit and should have really equalised.

“We had a great chance to square it up, although perhaps not deserved.

“But we’re struggling at the minute. We’re really up against it in terms of numbers, and it's difficult."