Saints 2 Leicester City 0

THIS victory over Leicester might have seemed somewhat routine, but it showed a different side to Saints.

Fans have increasingly found the post-match words of players and manager frustrating in recent weeks.

The oft-repeated comments of we dominated, played good football and should have won' have worn a little thin.

That's because it's great to dominate a game, even better to play good football, but it means absolutely nothing if it doesn't result in a win at the end of 90 minutes.

Against Leicester, Saints did dominate.

They played alright football and they ended up getting the win.

Totally deserved victory for Saints who rarely looked in any trouble. The team was well balanced and there was a new found stubborn streak, a real determination to do what it takes to win the game and that was good to see.

Adam Leitch

There were several key differences that led to this.

One was the application of the players.

It's been hard to fault their attitude during the six-game winless streak Saints had just endured.

But perhaps some of that effort was at times going in the wrong direction.

Again, it comes back to that idea of playing attractive football - it's great to do but not even Arsenal, the masters of it, win games based purely on that.

They are strong at the back, they defend well from the front and are always competitive in midfield.

In short, they earn the right to play.

Saints have been guilty of not always doing that - and on occasions not seeing it through.

Too often the good football has got them in good positions in games, but they haven't been clinical in the final third and have lapsed in their own defensive third and let in a soft goal.

You can't afford to do that.

That was a big difference against Leicester.

There was a different attitude from the players - it was steely and determined, a sense of them playing to make sure they won the tie.

It might have got a bit ugly and scrappy at times but Saints kept a clean sheet and progressed to the fourth round.

If Saints use this template, and improve upon it because they will certainly come up against better teams than Leicester, and it propels them to the top six you won't hear many fans complaining.

There won't be people bemoaning the days Saints used to pass the ball to the bitter end but lost.

Professional football is all about winning and, though it is not in the nature of some Saints players, you might have to forgo a little style for a bit of substance.

That's where your Darren Powell's of the world come in.

There's nothing remotely stylish about the way he plays but he's big, strong, effective and uncompromising.

He is the type who earns players with more talent the right to play.

Another big difference was the balance of the team.

It felt so much better with a left back at left back, a left-sided player on the left of midfield, having wide men with the ability to come inside or go on the outside.

George Burley has taken plenty of stick for his selections in recent weeks, but this was a good one - the team just felt right.

Of course it helps if you can get an early goal and, having already scrambled Steve Howard's effort off the line, Saints managed to settle any nerves by doing just that on 15 minutes.

Andrew Surman got the ball waist high with his back to goal, just inside the left side of the area.

He flicked the ball round the corner, spun and hit a half-volley into the far corner.

The lead was doubled on 36 minutes from Gregory Vignal's deep free-kick.

The ball was little more than ten yards inside the Leicester half on the right wing.

Vignal whipped the ball in with his left foot, keeper Paul Henderson got lost in a crowd of players and it ended up in the far corner.

It appeared to take a deflection along the way, but even after the game nobody seemed totally sure who it hit or if it just flew straight in.

After that, it was a case of Saints digging in.

The nearest they came to totally killing the game off was Grzegorz Rasiak's diving header that was saved on the line by Henderson.

But they rarely looked in any trouble as they did the gritty things well to see out the rest of the tie.

They barely even gave Leicester a sniff.

It just went to prove it doesn't have to be pretty or clever to be effective.

If you have good quality players in your team, and you do the leg work to give them the chance to shine, you will more often than not come out on top.

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