So’ton 2 – 1 Lincoln

So’ton 2 – 1 Lincoln

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Che Adams scored twice as Southampton marked Nathan Jones’ first home game as manager by advancing to the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup with an unconvincing 2-1 win over Lincoln.

Top scorer Adams struck both sides at half-time to save the Saints a blush after the Imps threatened an upset after Gavin Bazunu’s early own goal.

The lackluster hosts worked for an unforgettable fourth-round draw in a sparsely populated St Mary’s, leaving Jones with plenty to think about as he plotted a Premier League survival mission.

Adams’ winner – his eighth goal of the season – came 16 minutes from time, averting the threat of a penalty shoot-out the Saints had needed to slip past third-rate Sheffield Wednesday in the group stage.

Image: Che Adams’ double sealed Southampton’s place in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup

Lincoln, who is 14th in Sky Bet League One and beat Championship Bristol City in round three, has fared well and is likely to leave the South Coast sad as replays suggested Adam’s 25th-minute equalizer was sidelined was standing.

Saints substitute Samuel Edozie missed a golden chance to secure the result in added time when he somehow missed an open goal, while match-winner Adams should have scored a hat-trick with another superb opening.

Jones’ first game as Saints manager – a 3-1 Premier League defeat at Liverpool on 12 November that left the club penultimate in the top division – came two days after he replaced the sacked Ralph Hasenhuttl had, instead.

The former Luton coach had to wait another 38 days for his home debut because of the World Cup and had a nightmare start after calling up a strong team.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles clipped a Max Sanders corner miserably high within two minutes and when the ball fell dangerously under the bar Bazunu accidentally fired home under pressure from Imps defender Paudie O’Connor.

When is the quarter final draw?

The quarter-final draw will take place live on InNewCL Sports on Thursday night after Manchester City v Liverpool. The round of 16 games are then scheduled to take place in the week starting January 9, 2023.

Jones has had plenty of time to work with his new squad during the enforced break in domestic football, with Germany international Armel Bella-Kotchap and Ghana defender Mohammed Salisu being the only Saints players involved in the World Cup.

His disjointed side took time to recover from the shaky start and seemed to benefit from a sizeable lucky charm to equalize.

Adams, thwarted shortly before by a fine stop from City goalkeeper Carl Rushworth, headed home a cross from Mohamed Elyounoussi but replays suggested it should not be allowed for offside.

With VAR only being used in the semi-finals in the competition, the goal was left standing, much to the frustration of Imps boss Mark Kennedy and the healthy traveling support.

Lincoln’s only win at Southampton was a 3-2 win in the Second Division in December 1960.

The visitors were far from discouraged by the controversial equalizer and almost regained the lead when Bazunu made a deft stop against the lively Charles Vernam just before half-time.

Murmurs of discontent greeted the half-time whistle and Southampton continued to work after the restart despite dominating possession.

City Warden Rushworth went largely untested, while Lincoln enjoyed more moments of belligerent enterprise as they went in search of a shock.

As the threat of penalties began, Southampton eventually took the lead.

Imps defender Joe Walsh blocked Elyounoussi’s acrobatic attempt on the line after a Theo Walcott cross, but Adams was there to bring the rebound home.

Sanders came close with a shot from long-range before Edozie and Adams both missed glorious chances in stoppage time.

What’s next?

Southampton return in the Premier League on Boxing Day with Brighton visiting St Mary’s; Kick-off 3 p.m.

Lincoln City also plays next on December 26 when they travel to Burton in League One; Kick-off 3 p.m.

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