Soccer

Ryan Fraser leaves it late to fire Southampton to victory at Hull

Southampton’s Ryan Fraser scored the winner (Steven Paston/PA)
Southampton’s Ryan Fraser scored the winner (Steven Paston/PA) Southampton’s Ryan Fraser scored the winner (Steven Paston/PA)

Substitute Ryan Fraser’s dramatic late goal earned Southampton a 2-1 Sky Bet Championship win at Hull.

The home side looked up against it in the 20th minute when Will Smallbone opened the scoring for the visitors, who are finally clicking into gear under Russell Martin.

But Hull had been the better side until Smallbone scored and deservedly equalised five minutes later through Liam Delap.

However, the full-time result did not properly reflect the game as both sides had countless half-chances in a match which lurched from both penalty areas with almost careless abandon.

Hull head coach Liam Rosenior will be frustrated by the result – they have now won just once in seven – as late Southampton pressure allowed Fraser the chance to sweep home with virtually the last kick of the game.

Neither Rosenior nor Martin would have appreciated the open nature to the contest – but it unquestionably made for an entertaining match.

That was evidenced after 11 minutes when former Southampton defender Alfie Jones carelessly gave away possession on the right.

Stuart Armstrong squared to Smallbone, whose speculative hit from distance was deflected and well saved by Ryan Allsop.

Allsop could, however, do nothing about the opening goal three minutes later.

Kyle Walker-Peters too easily won his duel with Jaden Philogene before cutting back to an umarked Smallbone, who guided the ball into the bottom left corner of the net.

But Hull were far from done, most notably on the flanks, and equalised soon afterwards.

Southampton looked well positioned to snuff out the danger, yet an onrushing Scott Twine caught the visitors’ defence flat-footed with a whipped cross from the right.

Philogene’s initial effort deflected kindly to Delap, who powered home from a central area inside the six-yard box.

Saints fans might have expected a response but, if anything, Hull were the superior team before the break.

The hosts also flew out of the traps after the interval, with Philogene and Tyler Morton somehow denied by relentless last-ditch defending during a madcap counter-attack.

Southampton remained firmly in the game, though, and nearly punished Hull’s deep-lying back-four when Stuart Armstrong flashed inches wide of the target from long range.

Adam Armstrong later teed up Carlos Alcaraz, whose instinctive hit required a strong right hand from Allsop.

Delap might also have done better a few minutes later, but the Manchester City loan signing ran out of fuel, and ideas, in a one-on-one situation – albeit from a tricky angle – with Gavin Bazunu.

By contrast to what came before, the final half-hour was played out at a relatively sedate tempo.

Saints, now unbeaten in four, finished the stronger, with the influential Smallbone again thwarted by Allsop late in the piece.

But with the game meandering towards a draw, Fraser – an 84th-minute replacement for Stuart Armstrong – chose an opportune moment to open his account for Southampton.

Flynn Downes did all the hard work with an excellent low cross from the right, but the Newcastle loan signing still had the presence of mind to flight the ball out of Allsop’s reach with a perfect finish.