Opening Day Of The Season 1981 - Nottingham Forest
Tuesday, 17th Jul 2012 23:04
After being brought back down to earth the previous season, Saints attempted to get the show back on the road opening with an away trip at the City Ground.
1980/81 hadnt quite turned out as expected and had been a roller coaster typ of season, Europe had been qualified for in the last game of the season and Lawrie Mcmenemy had once again started to build another side having realised that if this time out Saints were to be a bit wiser and have a shot at the title then a bit more quality was called for, that came in the form of £600,000 signing David Armstrong from Middlesbrough.
But before the summer even started Saints were rebuffing man United's attempts to prise McMenemy away, it was a close thing but Mcmenemy opted to stay put, one thing that wasnt staying put was the old Milton Road end and Chocolate Boxes, they were demolished and a new two tiered terrace was put in their place, like the Archers a lot lower so all now had a clear view of the pitch.
But the opener was away from home at Nottingham Forest, a toughie because Forest were a top side at the time and indeed had been European Champions just 15 months earlier, 25,234 were there to see it including a couple of thousand Saints fans.
But it was to be no great start like a year earlier, Trevor Francis opened the scoring on 24 minutes and doubled the lead a minute later, a minute before the break Kevin Keegan hauled Saints back into the game but the damage had been done, Saints had a great attacking line up, but they were susceptible to being caught napping and when you had players like Trevor Francis around you just couldnt give him any room.
The problem again would be strength in depth, Dave Armstrong had been missing from this opener, indeed it would be the only game of the season he would miss, but Saints only had ten players who would play over 25 games and when you look at the fact that Steve's Moran and Williams would miss big chunks of the season with injury, although they would lead the table for the longest of any team, in the run in they ran out of steam because of a lack of depth, out of 42 games Saints would only use a sub on 19 occasions, usually David Puckett who made 9 appearances off the bench, the rest being shared amonsgt Danny Wallace with 4 and then George Lawrence, Andy Rogers and Keith Cassells, when you realise these were the only subs used all season, it emphasises the lack of cover Saints had, basically a few raw kids.
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