Saints demonstrated their ability to beat the best in League One and put last week's woes at Tranmere behind them yesterday by recording one of their biggest wins of the season against Leeds.
Saints 1 - 0 Leeds
Dan Harding's first half strike was all that ultimately divided the two sides in a game that saw Saints gain revenge for their defeat by the same margin against Leeds in December. Alan Pardew made some interesting comments in his post-match interview about Saints' progress over recent weeks. An impressive string of performances have seen them prove themselves at home against opponents as diverse as promotion-chasing Leeds and Huddersfield and the lowerly Walsall. The only question mark over the team, he claimed, hung over their ability to win scrappy games away from home on boggy pitches. The play-offs remain a massive 16 points away and even correcting this flaw will probably not result in a top six place. But he is right that his team is starting to prove its dominance in nearly every area at this level; with that shortcoming corrected for next season, prospects for promotion bode very well.
Nicola Cortese Interview
Prior to kick-off, Radio Solent aired an extensive interview with Saints Chairman Nicola Cortese. In it, the elusive Swiss figure - handed the reigns of power at SFC by club owner Markus Liebherr, the Swiss Industrialist who took over the club in the summer - answered fans' questions on a range of issues. Here is the link, but in the meantime, here are the headlines:
Promotion this season
The Chairman dismissed claims that he and Pardew had fallen out over his public statement of dissatisfaction with results since January. He reiterated, however, his belief that results should have been better and that promotion was a realisable aim at the start of the season. Perhaps disingenuously, he compared Saints' prospects with Norwich and Charlton, who, he said, were 20 or 30 points ahead. Although he factored the ten point penalty into his claim, it should be remembered that Saints was a club on its knees in the close season and Pardew had little time to sort out his squad. The signings in January could not have been expected to deliver instant success. Cortese is obviously impatient to leave League One.
The future of St Marys
Cortese lingered for a while on questions surrounding the stadium, stating his desire to sort out match day issues such as parking and make more use of the ground on non-match days. He obviously sees the surrounding area as a hindrance and made the following bombshell statement: 'I would not exclude the possibility that we are going to build a stadium somewhere more convenient.' Nothing more that a pipe dream surely - few fans would want to leave St Marys anyway. But it again indicates his ambition to build the club in all directions, both commercially and on the playing field. Expect big changes to the area around the ground in the future.
JPT Ticket situation
Cortese stated his dissatisfaction at ticketing levels and the prospect of seeing over 20,000 empty seats at the final in a fortnight. He revealed he had even offered to provide and pay for stewarding to support the extra fans. However, he conceded it was probably too late to expect any changes now as the FA would not want to 'lose credibility.'
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