The early kick off in the EFL Championship saw recently-promoted Plymouth Argyle host relegated Southampton at Home Park, with both sides looking to build on solid starts to their league campaigns.
PLY: Hazard, Mumba, Houghton, Scarr, Edwards, Hardie, Whittaker, Gibson, Azaz, Cundle, Kesler-Hayden
SOU: Bazunu, Walker-Peters, Stephens, Bednarek, Manning, Charles, S Armstrong, Tella, Edozie, A Armstrong, Adams
Russell Martin’s side were looking to get back into the winners column after an action-packed 4-4 draw against Norwich last weekend, but it was Argyle who started the stronger as two chances in the opening minute were blocked by the Saints defence.
The visitors’ first effort came courtesy of a direct free kick, which would have been prime Ward-Prowse territory once upon a time – but with the former captain gone, the responsibility fell to Adam Armstrong who hit it straight at Connor Hazard.
The best opening of the first half came for Southampton, as Nathan Tella spurned a chance at the back post by hitting it straight at the Argyle ‘keeper.
Plymouth were also fashioning openings of their own, but poor execution in the final third let them down as both sides went into the interval goalless.
Shortly after the start of the second half however, there was lift off at Home Park.
First, Southampton took the lead as Nathan Tella found himself on the end of a smart cut-back from Adam Armstrong, curling into the bottom corner to give the visitors the lead.
Ninety-four seconds later though, Argyle had found parity as Morgan Whittaker raced away down the right hand side, crossing for Ryan Hardie at the near post to smash home a quick equaliser.
On the hour mark, Stuart Armstrong rattled the crossbar from the edge of the area, shortly after Ryan Hardie had been booked for diving at the other end, while Odozie curled wide of the far post for the Saints.
Further opportunities came and went for Southampton, as a cross from Stuart Armstrong evaded Edozie while a Che Adams goal was disallowed for what was a clear foul on Hazard.
Argyle also had Lewis Gibson to thank; the former Everton man pulling off two important blocks in his own area as Southampton pushed for a winner while Hazard got a powerful hand to another Adam Armstrong free kick.
As the clock ticked into the red, Plymouth almost stole all three points but Morgan Whittaker could only hit the post before Southampton’s pressure told deep into injury time.
Adam Armstrong’s header from a corner was expertly clawed away from an excellent Hazard, but the ball fell to Che Adams who chested down and converted the easiest of tap-ins to take all three points back to Hampshire.
The final 1-2 scoreline was a fair reflection of an entertaining affair, especially given the Saints‘ pressure in the last twenty minutes – but Steven Schumacher’s Plymouth side have shown they are more than a match for teams in a competitive Championship.
Southampton go top of the league, albeit only temporarily until the 3pm kick offs, ahead of hosting Queens Park Rangers next weekend. Plymouth will travel to Birmingham City.