Adams gives Southampton opening win at Sheff Wed

Adams gives Southampton opening win at Sheff Wed

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Southampton striker Che Adams (left) celebrates his goal
Southampton striker Che Adams (left) scored the winner seven minutes after coming on as a substitute

Relegated Southampton made the perfect start to life back in the English Football League thanks to substitute Che Adams’ late winner at promoted Sheffield Wednesday.

The visitors took an early lead when Nathan Tella cut in from the right and unleashed a fine left-footed shot from the edge of the area, that took the smallest of flicks off the back of team-mate Adam Armstrong’s head on its way past Owls goalkeeper Cameron Dawson.

The home side, who had been utterly outplayed in the first half, levelled after the break when Lee Gregory smashed home after a corner was headed back across goal.

It looked set to fizzle out to a draw before Saints skipper James Ward-Prowse, making his first league appearance below the top flight, cut the ball back for Scotland striker Adams to convert from close range and give Russell Martin a win in his first league game in charge.

Martin has built a reputation as a coach who demands his side keep possession during spells with MK Dons and Swansea and his new charges made 477 successful passes, the most recorded for any team at this level, in a first half where they looked capable of blowing the home side away.

Sheffield Wednesday and Southampton
Both sets of players and fans paid their respects to former Sheffield Wednesday boss Trevor Francis and midfielder Chris Bart-Williams, who both died last month, before the game kicked off

Unusually, for two teams who changed leagues and managers in the summer, there was just one new signing in each starting XI, as both managers stuck with players who had been contracted to the club last season.

Southampton, playing in the Championship for the first time since 2012, were on the front foot from the start and took a deserved early lead when Tella’s effort, which was surely goal-bound, brushed a ducking Armstrong’s head on its way in.

For all their dominance Saints struggled to find a second goal and a Jack Stephens effort from a corner, hacked off the line by Callum Paterson, was as close as they came.

Wednesday, under Xisco Munoz for the first time after Darren Moore left the club in the summer despite leading them to promotion from League One, made a much better start to the second half and Gregory kept his cool to equalise.

It was perhaps fitting that England international Ward-Prowse, who has been linked with a move to West Ham and seems unlikely to spend a season in the second tier, was at the heart of the winning goal. His penetrating run into the home area was not tracked and his pullback left ex-Sheffield United man Adams with a simple tap-in.

The south-coast team had ended last season on a run of 13 games without victory, but they stood firm through nine minutes of time added on to claim a first opening-day win in a decade.

On this evidence, there should be many more wins this season than last.

Line-ups

Sheff Wed

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1DawsonBooked at 78mins
  • 13PatersonBooked at 30mins
  • 6Iorfa
  • 20Ihiekwe
  • 23Famewo
  • 4VaulksSubstituted forPalmerat 77′minutes
  • 19Bakinson
  • 15DelgadoBooked at 45minsSubstituted forFletcherat 77′minutes
  • 10Bannan
  • 11WindassSubstituted forJamesat 86′minutes
  • 9GregoryBooked at 28minsSubstituted forMusabaat 68′minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Palmer
  • 7Wilks
  • 14Valentín
  • 17Bernard
  • 24Smith
  • 27Fletcher
  • 33James
  • 45Musaba
  • 47Charles

Southampton

Formation 4-3-3

  • 31Bazunu
  • 2Walker-Peters
  • 35Bednarek
  • 5StephensBooked at 84mins
  • 3ManningBooked at 37mins
  • 16Smallbone
  • 8Ward-Prowse
  • 22AlcarazSubstituted forS Armstrongat 73′minutes
  • 11TellaBooked at 64mins
  • 9A ArmstrongBooked at 27minsSubstituted forAdamsat 79′minutes
  • 23EdozieSubstituted forAriboat 89′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1McCarthy
  • 7Aribo
  • 10Adams
  • 17S Armstrong
  • 19Djenepo
  • 24Charles
  • 25Lyanco
  • 27Amo-Ameyaw
  • 45Lavia

Referee:
Robert Madley

Attendance:
28,558

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