Southampton leave Reading in ruins as Nigel Adkins loses against former club
Reading were pushed closer to relegation as Nigel Adkins' first home game ended in a 2-0 defeat against Southampton.
Last Updated: 06/04/13 5:43pm
The Royals had their chances in the early stages but fell behind to Jay Rodriguez's 34th minute strike and Southampton never looked back as they sealed another impressive win.
Adam Lallana netted a second goal in the 72nd minute for Saints, who are now seven points clear of the drop zone, while Reading's battle for survival now appears doomed as they remain seven points adrift of safety with just six games to play.
Adkins, sacked by Southampton in January, was given a good reception by the fans of both teams as he acknowledged the crowd, and it was his new side who made the brighter start.
Sean Morrison headed over in the first few minutes after beating his marker to a Danny Guthrie free-kick, before Adam Le Fondre spurned a glorious opportunity when the ball broke for him in the box and he blazed a volley horribly over from close range.
Reading continued to apply pressure and had a confident penalty appeal turned down midway through the first half as referee Mike Jones ruled that Hal Robson-Kanu had been tackled cleanly by Jos Hooiveld, while Artur Boruc made a scrambling save down to his right to keep out Adrian Mariappa's header.
However, the game turned in the 34th minute as Rodriguez latched on to a Rickie Lambert pass just before it could be intercepted by the onrushing Adam Federici, and his determination was rewarded as the ball ricocheted into the net.
Reading appeared deflated by the sudden setback and it could have got worse for them before half-time as Rodriguez crashed an effort against the woodwork and then had a shot stopped by Federici, with Gaston Ramirez surprisingly lacking composure as he steered the rebound wide.
Hope Akpan was replaced by Mikele Leigertwood at the interval as Adkins tried to find a way back into the game, but Southampton remained in control as they soaked up Reading possession and threatened on the counter-attack.
Federici was again called into action to prevent Steven Davis from doubling Southampton's lead following a terrific ball by Lambert, who minutes later was just unable to reach Rodriguez's cross to the back post at the end of a flowing move.
Saints eventually managed to double their lead in the 72nd minute when Lallana was released by a sublime pass from Rodriguez and finished calmly past Federici from the edge of the area.
Reading were nearly given a lifeline when Boruc came perilously close to carrying the ball over his own line as he held a Le Fondre header, but there were few other alarms for Southampton as they held on for an important victory.
Reading manager Nigel Adkins insisted after the match that his players would stay positive and keep fighting until the end of the season.
He said: "I'll pick the players up, the players will pick themselves up and we'll work very hard.
"This is the reality of it and you have to embrace that challenge. It is a situation we don't want to be in but we are in, so we can either start hiding away from things or face up to the reality of where we are and look forward to what we have got to go and do."
Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino, who confirmed he would be having a drink with Adkins after the match, paid tribute to a fine performance from his team that lifted them further away from danger.
"I felt today we played a very good game, but there are still a lot of points to be won," said Pochettino.
"I am proud of what the players are doing. I think the club has brought me in to do a job and I am doing it well, so I am just pleased overall."