Three goals in five minutes condemn Saints to another heavy loss
League leaders Sporting came away with a comfortable win to maintain their unbeaten record despite an improved performance from Saints.
Conditions were not ideal at Banbury Road with a strong, cold wind blowing across the ground accompanied by heavy, squally showers. Add to that a soft pitch which had survived a morning inspection and things did not bode well for the purists.
There was little action for the first few minutes as both teams attempted to get a feel for what they had let themselves in for, though Josh Turton forced Rouslers’ keeper Ryan Price into a low parried save in the fourth minute, with Joe Fisher just unable to latch on to the rebound.
In the tenth minute, Saints keeper Harry Gardiner tipped Jason Cowley’s angled shot wide of the right-hand post and Craig Jones had his header cleared off the line from the resulting corner.
After ratcheting up the pressure, Sporting finally got their noses in front in the 23rd minute as Reece Hewitt got behind the Southam defensive line and put in a cross that Cowley had no trouble in tapping home.
Sporting laid siege, though Southam did have a great chance just past the half-hour mark when Aaron Keen beat the offside trap only to lose out to Price in a one on one.
Five minutes before the interval, Sporting grabbed a second when Luke Shorthouse supplied Cowley who appeared to be offside before running on and slipping the ball under the diving Gardiner from 12 yards out.
Sporting dominate the early proceedings after the break, scoring three goals in five minutes.
Cowley completed his hat-trick in the 49th minute, slotting home from Will Tibbetts’ nod-on and Shorthouse got the last touch after a goalmouth scramble four minutes later, appearing to kick the ball out of Gardiner’s hands.
A minute later, Sam Wills floated over a delightful corner which allowed Luke Edwards to side-foot home from a few yards out to make it two in two games.
Southam had another chance to get on the scoresheet in the 66th minute when Price’s kick-out only went as far as Turton but the striker reacted too slowly to his good fortune and despite being clean through, could only manage a weak shot straight at the keeper.
The subsequent clearance ended up with visiting substitute Andy Nicol who forced Gardiner into a flying save, his best of the match.
With three minutes of normal time remaining, a pass from Nicol split the Southam back four and allowed Chris Lloyd to find the bottom right-hand corner of the net from outside the box for the goal of the game.