COVENTRY City suffered a difficult afternoon as Southampton secured their promotion to the Premier League.
Goals in the first half from Billy Sharp and Jose Fonte were equalled after the break by Jos Hooiveld and Adam Lallana.
Amongst the fervent atmosphere enjoyed by a record crowd at the St. Mary's Stadium, a game of football broke out. Coventry enjoyed a good start to the game and almost took the lead in the 7th minute.
Youngster Conor Thomas did well to find Cody McDonald in the area and after he skipped past Daniel Fox, he found Thomas who had continued his run but Jos Hooiveld intercepted just before the 18-year old was going to slot home. From the resulting corner, McSheffrey's corner was only half-cleared back to him and his powerful drive was well saved by Kelvin Davis.
The Sky Blues continued to impress in the opening stages and Carl Baker should have done better when Gael Bigirimana's through-ball down the right found the former Stockport County man in acres of space but his shot was blasted over the bar.
The home side hadn't fashioned many opportunities before they took the lead in the 15th minute. Jose Fonte burst forward from the back and fed Guly Do Prado to pick out Adam Lallana whose volley was deflected off Billy Sharp into the neck of the net.
City's afternoon took another turn for the worst as the Saints doubled their advantage only three minutes later. Lallana's right-sided corner found Fonte on the penalty spot and he did well to direct his powerful header into the top corner.
It was a tough pill for the Sky Blues to swallow having played so well in the opening stages and they continued to fashion chances. Bigirimana rode two challenges in the middle of the park before picking out Baker on the edge of the area whose low drive was parried by Davis in the 25th minute.
Both sides continued to have chances to score with Sharp having his effort blocked off the line by Jordan and McDonald was almost in after Oliver Norwood's ball but Butterfield did well to get back before Davis collected.
Andy Thorn changed Coventry's shape at half-time with Shaun Jeffers replacing Bigirimana as Coventry went to 4-4-2. It made no immediate effect however, as Rickie Lambert almost found the top corner of Murphy's net in the 50th minute and the Saints added to their lead nine minutes later.
Fox's corner was well met by Hooiveld and his header went through a rabble of players before nestling in the bottom corner. The agony didn't cease for Coventry as the Saints made it four in the 63rd minute with Fox crossing for an unmarked Adam Lallana at the back-post to tuck home and to send their promotion party into full flow.
It was an incredibly difficult day for supporters and players alike but the young side kept battling against the odds. Jordan Clarke did well to get forward and supply Baker who turned inside his defender and unleashed a fierce shot which was well saved by Davis.
As the game drifted towards the final whistle, the City players continued to battle forward but couldn't find the goal their efforts deserved in the midst of a promotion party.
Coventry City:Murphy (GK), Willis (Henderson 71), Cranie, Hussey, Clarke, Norwood, McSheffrey (Roberts 33), Baker, Bigirimana (Jeffers 46), Thomas, McDonald.
Subs: Dunn (GK), Platt.
Southampton: Davis, Butterfield, Hooiveld, Fonte, Fox, Do Prado, Schneiderlin, Hammond (Cork 36), Lallana (Puncheon 82), Sharp (De Ridder 76), Lambert.
Subs: Bialkowski, Harding, Puncheon
Attendance: 32, 363