Saints At Brighton The Verdict Wednesday, 29th Aug 2018 09:25
Both sides rung the changes from Saturday but ultimately Saints second string was better than Albion's although we left it very late.
Mark Hughes made 10 changes to the side that started the game against Leicester on Saturday the only survivor being Moi Elyounoussi who presumably needed the game time.
But it was still a strong side for Saints and the three new signings aside only Matt Targett wasn't a first choice player for Saints at some point last season.
The first half was awful though and was littered with poor defending from both sides when the whistle went for half time penalties loomed and there were still 45 minutes to play.
But Saints had looked the better side, Brighton had plenty of bluster as you would expect from a team of fringe players looking to push their way into Chris Hughton's plans for the rest of the season, we though had the experience but too much tendency to try and play the intricate balls that weren't coming off.
As the second half went on though you felt that if there was to be a goal then it would be Saints who scored it, with 20 minutes to go Mark Hughes made a positive substitution bringing on an attacker in Sam Gallagher and taking off Romeu, at least he was trying to win the game.
In fairness to Gallagher he changed the pattern of the game, his running seemed to unsettle the Brighton defence and he created several chances for himself and others.
With 10 minutes left there was no doubt that Mark Hughes was going for the jugular, off went Armstrong and Gabbiadini and on came Redmond and Austin and both started to hammer on the door for Saints.
Perhaps the best chance for a winner came just before it did, Button in the Brighton goal should have cleared a back pass easily but got spooked by Gallagher and fell over, Gallagher got the ball but the angle was too tight for a shot himself so he laid it back for Charlie Austin who from the penalty spot area hit a tame shot that was cleared off the line.
But with two minutes to go Saints won the game, Redmond did some good work on the left before getting to the byeline and pulling back a perfect cross for Charlie Austin to power home a header giving the keeper no chance.
All in all a win is a win and it will not only help our confidence but give us the chance of another run in this competition, but what can we take from it ?
The truth is very little, Brighton dd not seem interested in this game, Chris Hughton had made only one substitution when the winner went in and showed no real signs of trying to win the game, this was not the test that it would have been in the League .
It will have shown Mark Hughes he has options though, Matt Targett looked good at left back and Angus Gunn did little wrong in goal, Sam Gallagher's running was positive and changed the game but is he good enough in the Premier League.
Nathan Redmond looks to have found some of the confidence knocked out of him over the past 18 months, but Hughes problem is that whilst he has a big squad, few of them have yet to step up to the plate consistently, if they do that there will be no problems this season.
However you felt that Hughes team on Saturday at Crystal Palace will be a lot nearer the one that faced Leicester than the one that beat Brighton. No one who came in last night looked like they offered a better option than those who played at the weekend at least not in the starting line up.
But a victory is a victory and we are in the next round of the competition, it offers us a chance of glory this season and that is what football is all about, for Saints we need to be looking at winning a cup and the FA Cup is fast becoming the preserve of the Big Six, so if we want a trophy and Europe then it is the League cup we need to take seriously.
Certainly Saints supporters did with well over 2,000 in the crowd of 13,651 and it was they who made all the noise.
Not sure I learnt much from last night's game, except perhaps that Brighton shouldn't even bother entering the League Cup next year and that Lewes really doesn't like Catholics. Felt bad about laughing when Romeu got smacked in the face and staggered backwards like a punch drunk boxer. Hope it hasn't affected his good looks too much.
NATHON REDMOND man of the season so far & leaving every thing on the pitch, dont worry about romeu he is still looking for that lamp post. a win well done sfc now go to cpfc & be positive, no more 5 midfielders in the team lets have 4 forwards on.
We'll only find out if Sam Gallagher can cut it in the EPL if he actually gets on the pitch. Surely in a tight game he is a different option to anyone else we have on the bench and will be madness not to test him rather than stick with the same old routine which doesn't produce.
As I said, last night was a lot different to the PL, Hughes and his staff will watch him in training day in day out and seen him in the pre season they will have a good idea if he s a better option than what we already have.
Gallagher wont have done his chances any harm, but Im not sure that he would be in ahead of Ings, Austin and Gabbiadini let alone Long, his path is a bit blocked turning 23 in a few weeks he is not a youngster anymore
Whilst I agree with you Nick, that Sam G is no longer a youngster, I still feel that he is the type of striker that we need in the team, and deserves a run, or at least several minutes as a sub, not the perfunctory 15/20 minutes. He is tall, and built like the brick outhouse, and the sort of player who can make a nuisance of himself in defences, allowing the other strikers to take advantage and score the goals.
Its all a bit of a headache for Hughes at the moment. Very few stand out performers or automatic 1st names on the team sheet. The danger he has is to pick players depending on our opposition and changing the system depending who we play. If you keep changing systems and players then we'll have no consistency. He's much better off picking a system where we can impose ourselves on our opposition and worry more about playing our football rather than just trying to stop the opposition. This is what Pochetinno and Koeman did. They had a system that worked (most of the time) and stuck to it (most of the time). Hughes needs to do the same.
I'd stick with 4 at the back and play 2 up top. Keep attacking in games and try to score some goals. St Mary's has been starved of goals for 2 years. Maybe try to forge a partnership out of Ings and Gabbi, and use Austin and Gallagher as impact subs. Give Redmond and Ely a run of games on the wing. Play one holding midfielder and Armstrong who can get forward at times.
Nick has made the point many times over that we now have greater strength in depth than ever before. At the risk of repeating myself, I say again, is having a full squad of players of roughly the same standard better than a first choice 11 of outstanding ability backed up by academy products and others whose better days are probably behind them. I favour the latter and last night is evidence of that.
Our constant argument for not using (and loaning out) people like Gallagher, Sims, et al in the first team is that they are not upto the level of those that are our experienced PL players. I could go with that, if our experienced PL first team players were consistently performing and producing the goods, but they haven't for 2 and a bit seasons now, and the trouble is, as bad or as poor as they may be, they know they will still get picked.
Agree with Reedy, Mark Hughes should settle on a system and fit players to the system, like Southgate did in the summer. We're not good enough to adopt to the opposition and players like to know the system that they are playing in so they can build understanding with others. Keep chopping and changing systems confuses everyone. Cedric was certainly confused on Saturday, he heads the ball up in the air, but sets off running out of the box leaving the fall behind!!!
People please remember this was Brighton Reserves not Real Madrid so not a real test for the new players. I can't see Hughes using Gallagher anytime soon in a PL match all the time he's got his mate Austin in tow.
Ah! but good old Charlie scored our winner!
Yeah, he did but he also missed two effing sitters before Redmond planted one right on top of his head so even he couldn't miss but it was a bloody close call as Button pushed it away but not just far enough.
I agree with Nick that we should always take this competition seriously because why couldn´t we be lucky enough to win it + it provides a pathway to Europe. I would love to win a first so called major trophy since I became a Saints fan in 1980.
To A1079 ...whilst I agree with you on most of what you wrote....there is a world of difference between a young player coming in for a game at SMS, and give a good showing and that same player DAJFU week in and week out and making the place his own when the existing " first choice" players have problems delivering every week,
I recall Roy H. (when England manager) told his critics that many young players can come in and play well in front of a full house at Wembley, but they can't hold the same level of consistancy for more than a few games.
I'd like to see Sam G. get a goal or two (even coming off the bench), but I doubt if he would be able to hold the same form and oust Charlie from his spot in the team.
Most of the young players we've brought in (over the years) have come into a successful side and their input might have been the icing on the cake, but having the task of shoring up a leaky defence, or converting half chances in fromt of goal is something else.
Those U23 players we've loaned out will (hopefully) get game time at clubs who play at another level, and it may well be a baptism of fire for some of them, and a test of how they need to improve in order to hold down a place in a Prem.squad.
The fact that we have kept back Gallagher and Targett from last seasons crop of loanees may suggest that it is their big chance ...or their last chance.(?)