sport

Pelle form pleases Koeman

Ronald Koeman hopes Graziano Pelle will stay on the goal trail after the Italian opened his Southampton account in the 2-0 Capital One Cup win at Millwall.

Koeman had ordered Pelle to toughen up as he adapts to life in England - and a chilly Tuesday night down at The Den can certainly be character building.

The summer signing from Feyenoord put himself about, though, forcing a fine save from Lions keeper David Forde, seeing a header hit the post and sending a curler narrowly wide.

And he got his reward in stoppage time, latching onto Sean Davis' through-ball and calmly side-footing past Forde to seal Saints' passage into round three.

"He was unlucky with one chance, and maybe he had to do more with the other two chances but he was working hard for the team," said Saints boss Koeman.

"In the second half there were more players around him and he deserved to score. It's important for a striker, so it was good for him to score."

Pelle was not the only player to score his first goal for Saints - Jack Cork also hit the net for the first time, although it took him 111 more appearances.

After a lacklustre first half, Cork came on at the break and took just eight minutes to break the deadlock when he headed in Dusan Tadic's corner.

"I heard it's Jack's first - I had to ask how long he had been at the club," added Koeman. "It's strange for a player of his quality. But he played very well.

"It was two different 45 minutes. After the first I was unhappy. Millwall were fantastic, but we were sloppy.

"But we did much better in the second half. We controlled it and finally scored the second one. The result is okay - but I won't forget the first 45 minutes.

Indeed Millwall, who were showing nine changes to their team compared with Southampton's three, should have been ahead at half-time.

Byron Webster flashed a header across goal and wide before Magaye Gueye's composure deserted him and he shanked his shot past the post.

Jermaine Easter was off target either side of the break before Cork finally breathed life into Saints.

The Lions had five Academy players on the pitch at the final whistle and manager Ian Holloway was proud of his young side.

"When I saw their team sheet I thought 'what have I done'?" he said.

"But after that first half I'm actually gutted. I'm absolutely delighted with the way they played.

"We didn't do our job from a corner for their first goal and it didn't go quite as well after that. But I've been congratulated by their people on the way we played."