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Southampton 1 v 1 Brighton and Hove Albion
Barclays Premier League
Thursday, 16th July 2020 Kick-off 20:00
Saints V Brighton The Verdict
Friday, 17th Jul 2020 09:29

It was yet another draw against Brighton at St Mary's and a game of two halves after Ralph Hasenhuttl changed half the side, but there were still some very encouraging signs in the second half and we deserved all three points overall.

Ralph Hasenhuttl had intimated he would ring the changes and ring them he did with 5 of the 10 outfield places seeing a man out and a man in, but the balance of the team was altered and we struggled to get going and at the back we were all at sea.

In truth Brighton weren't much going forward, but we failed to do the basics, too many times we ball watched and presented them with chances, on 17 minutes they took the lead and it was a sucker punch, a long throw that say Vestergaard a yard off Glen Murray who had plenty of space and time to direct his header to Maupay who breezed past Bednarek and placed his shot into the corner leaving McCarthy stranded, it was a soft goal down to a lapse in concentration.

But for all the possession we had we were lacking any sort of co ordination going forward, Michael Obafemi as I have often said is a reactive player, he does not make runs or create space, he has to be given the ball at his feet or have it put in front of him, he was non existent first half and running around aimlessly, but the issue was he just wasn't offering an outlet, he is young though and will learn and improve.

We had our chances in the first half but it was a poor performance.

At half time Ralph made two changes so redress the balance and it worked, Romeu who had already been booked went off and on came Walker Peters, a quick shuffle of KWP to right back and PEH to midfield restored the balance

Up front off went Obafemi and on came Che Adams and we immediately looked a more balanced side, now the Seagulls were hanging on and when Adams scored on 66 minutes you could see only one winner.

The goal was well worked, Che Adams cleverly headed the ball down to Nathan Redmond who in one movement swept the ball through perfectly for Danny Ings and he was never going to miss once put through.

Brighton rarely had a sustained attack in the 2nd half but they did have their moments and again chaos in our defence saw 5 of our players chase the ball whilst one of the only two men in the box for the Seagulls pulled the ball back for the other one completely unmarked on the penalty spot, luckily he blazed wide with our men floudering.

At the other end we were creating chance after chance, but Brighton were defending like trojans and throwing themselves in the way, Che Adams was particularly unlucky on more than one occasion, he did everything right, but luck was not shining on him.

We had 15 efforts in the second half, with Brighton goalkeeper Ryan making one world class save when he turned Jannik Vestergaard's 25-yard strike against the crossbar with the briefest of fingertips.

Even when the visitors had to put one of their central defenders up front for the closing stages having used all their subs, they dug in and made sure they held what they had come for and that was the point that means they are safe barring a miracle turn around of goal difference.

This was not a poor performance in the second half, but it highlighted our lack of depth in certain positions, it would be easy to point the finger at Pierre Emile Hojbjerg and Jannik Vestergaard as they are the current villains of the piece in some fans eyes, but it was more than that, we lacked something in the first half and that was balance, in the second we were as good as any other home game in terms of creating chances.

It was disapointing, we had a great chance to leapfrog Everton and close in on 10th place, now that is highly unlikely, but we do know 3 more points will secure 12th and it is now a battle with Everton for 11th.

Now to Bournemouth were hopefully Ralph will revert to our first choice 11 and we will get the points that will make sure that the league table looks very satisfying at the end of the season.

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SanMarco added 09:57 - Jul 17
"highlighted our lack of depth in certain positions". Certainly did and rather odd to 'rest' KWP when there was no one to fill his position.

"it would be easy to point the finger at Pierre Emile Hojbjerg and Jannik Vestergaard" - very easy indeed they were both appalling.

Vokins could be one for the future but the first half was a reality check. I am not usually one for 'what if' counter-factual history but what if Ings had been injured in the first half at Norwich and had been out ever since? We have a pretty decent core of about 13 players but yesterday shows that more than tinkering is needed and do we have the money?

Good that we came back though - a great improvement, we have too often had two halves like the first one at home in recent times.

PS Note to Jack Stephens fans - yes he is better than Vestergaard but so is everyone.

SaintNick added 10:26 - Jul 17
Not rather odd to rest KWP, Ralph explained that KWP had barely played in a year and had played several games in quick succession he needed a rest.

Indeed several players needed a rest and I think Ralph balanced out the need for strong sides in the last two games and reasoned this was the game to do it

I would say PEH & Vestergaard were no worse than most out there and in the second half Vestergaard didn't do much wrong

I would say the decent core is about 20 players, but we are weak in a couple of positions with not real cover

saintmark1976 added 10:47 - Jul 17
Very balanced and fair report Nick.

Looking forward to Sunday. I hope that the players who needed to be rested yesterday are included (in what results have recently shown) is our best starting eleven.Whatever the result it’s important we avoid being drawn into a “ you put out a week team because Bournemouth are your neighbours” situation.

Flamingbankers added 11:09 - Jul 17
It has to be said that although on the whole Ralph has been great - coach and motivator - however, he does make unfathomable and glaringly poor team selections at times -pissing me off in the process, expecting the worst. I don't buy that anybody needed a rest, did they really, they're professional athletes, some players that had been playing all the Lockdown matches were still in the first team and most were on the bench anyway. KWP came on in the second half and sweated his guts out. If you remove 3 of your first team defence you'd be very lucky to get away with anything in the Premiership - and that's whilst Saints are trying to get the highest points total and placing possible. Even though we dominated the second half we were still lucky to get away with one point - another first half goal would have sealed all three points for Brighton. Saints defence definitely were 'all at sea ' in the first half and were forced to bring on better players in the second. Two points lost rather than one gained. 'Disappointing' as Nick said.

Santos added 11:20 - Jul 17
In the defence of Hojberg yes out of position first half struggled. However Ralph made the right decision to take off Romeu as the ref would have given him a second yellow as he had the Monday game in his mind!!!!

Hojberg though provided much more energy in the second half. If not replaced properly I do feel we will miss him over a season. We can slag him off for wanting away and airing his position in the media always rubs us up the wrong way, but Raph has dealt with it and Hojberg is still putting in a shift when required to do so.Not letting anyone down on the pitch but money will always talk and you can dress it up however you want!

erick added 11:26 - Jul 17
We need to create more chances we need an alternative to Armstrong as he is the most creative player in Saints. Hojberg can leave can be replaced, Che for me needs to get more chances and the goals will come. In games that we dominate possession we need creators n that's the biggest concern. We should target cantwell and Jamal Lewis for width. We need to be more aggressive and players to take more responsibilities.

SaintPaulVW added 11:32 - Jul 17
Unfortunately the changes to the side put us off our stride in the first half last night. Once Ralph made his changes at half time, we played a lot better in the second half. A draw was a fair result though.

It was right to rest a few people and good to give the younger players a run out.

PEH was okay but fair enough if he wants to leave. Same for Vestergaard. KWP played a lot better than against MU.

Hopefully we can use these games to get off to a good start next year. If we can keep Ings - he's going to have a lot of interest- I'm sure we can be up challenging for the Europa spots again. COYS!


halftimeorange added 11:36 - Jul 17
On that performance I don't think we'd miss Hobjberg - he certainly hasn't improved (as I thought he would) during his stay at St Marys. In fact, during the vastly improved second half display, to my eyes he made more passing errors than any other Saints player. As for Vestergaard no, he didn't make many errors after the break as he didn't make any tackles, although that was one hell of a shot. KWP's arrival balanced the defence but, as others have observed, where will the goals come from if DI is injured? A disappointing night for Smallbone who was never in the game. Definitely two points lost against a poor side. Predictably, we were caught out by Glen Murray. If he takes up coaching we should have him at St Marys to work with our defence.

highfield49 added 11:40 - Jul 17
It was probably too much to expect that giving key players a rest wouldn't disrupt the pattern. Smallbone and Vokins are still learning but both played well whilst PEH seems to be elsewhere in his head and Obafemi just doesn't have Adam's ability to read play. KWP just looks so much part of the team as does Armstrong. Hopefully KWP will get a contract and stay but he must be attracting attention from other teams and we know Spurs transfer dealings are never without issues. To be honest I was content with a draw only because Brighton are a well run club with a decent manager who gets the best out of players. No such sentiment for Bournemouth though, poor team with no ambition, and I'd quite happily reduce our goal difference and take three points on Sunday.

IanRC added 11:47 - Jul 17
Thought Holjberg’s distribution was excellent in the second half after a very poor first half. KWP too looked much more the part although I would still like him to try to beat his man and cross more often. Thought Vokins did well, not Smallbone’s best game for us but he will come good.

muggyp1 added 12:10 - Jul 17
Watching Harrison Reed perform for Fulham in recent games ( on TV of course) suggests to me it's now time to give him a chance. Looks better than PEH to me.

davepid added 12:16 - Jul 17
I find it odd that any analysis of this match or any home match doesn’t ever consider our atrocious home record. Looking at individual player performances doesn’t explain why we play so confidentially and attractively away from home but at St Mary’s we are so often the exact opposite. With just 5 wins last season and 5 this ( three against teams still battling for survival) we have serious problems playing at home . Is it the preparation, our set up , failing to deal with the oppositions tactics ? It can’t be that that Holberg had or didn’t have a good game or McCarthy dropped a clanger.

Farlow added 12:48 - Jul 17
Itotally agree with muggyp1 It is time to give Harrison Reed a run in the team as he is surely as good as PEH.

Consigliere added 12:52 - Jul 17
If Ralph wanted to know what we would look like if he reverted to the previous style of play the first half gave him the answer - a team of tyre fitters sent to assemble a suspension bridge (no offence to tyre fitters, I don't suppose bridge engineers would be much use in Kwik-Fit). Thankfully he abandoned the experiment at half time and we were excellent thereafter. Not too upset by the result though, I'd be pleased if Brighton stay up, nice club and decent fans. Pity about Bournemouth on Sunday, I'd like them to stay up too but that doesn't mean we should do them any favours!

schatfield added 12:53 - Jul 17
If ever there was a game of 2 halves. I dont blame the manger for tinkering in the first half, you cant play the same 11 every game and learn anything about the rest of your squad if you do.
KWP is a worry now - if it was any other club except bloody spurs we would likely sign him, but spurs will screw us over so sadly I dont expect him to be with us next season. Would love to be wrong here.
I would agree on Harrison Reed, he is playing well and I think could slot in good in place of PEH, who if reports are to be believed, is in discussion with Everton now.

sidsaint added 13:02 - Jul 17
I thought it was a bit weird of Ralph to play PEH at right back , in fairness to him he gave a good shift despite being off target with 2 chances. Completely different performance in second half when we were better balanced and we deserved to win the game with the 2 youngsters KWP and Vokins doing well. Saints have been good to watch with their high levels of energy pressing and fitness and if we can keep everyone fit look a good unit. Slight concern about Romeu and his yellow cards. 2 more good results and our financial rewards for finishing 12th will give us funds to strengthen.

arthurfane added 13:21 - Jul 17
Good chance to give fringe/youth players a chance - not many of them impressed, but pleased we tried it nonetheless. The Bournemouth game is bigger in my mind and (contrary to another commenter) I believe the players need a bit of a breather. Yes, they're professional athletes, but 3 games in a week is not for the fainthearted, especially when your game is all about constant pressing...

Agree with the points about Harrison Reed - seems tailormade for Saints' system and would love to see him given a chance next season. I might be proven horribly wrong, but in JWP, Romeu, Smallbone and Reed I see a strong enough centre of midfield for next season.

In defence, the signing of Salisu would shore up defence sufficiently.

Keen to see Forster given a go in goal again, if no-one can pay his wages/asking price - him and McCarthy would be 2 quality keepers (send Gunn out on loan). Both have errors in them, but are quality on their day.

Think Boufal might have played his last game for Saints. So frustrating as he's probably the most naturally gifted player we've had since Le Tiss, but he just hasn't done it at Saints and don't think he fits into our system well. Would love us to sign another tricky, pacy winger to replace him and complement Redmond, Armstrong and Djenepo.

Up front I think we're alright - Ings is brilliant, Adams I think will come good next season if given a run of games, and in Long, Obafemi and N'Lundulu I think we have decent enough back up. I'd love us to shell out on another 20 goal a season striker (Darwin Nunez?!), but beggars can't be choosers and I think there are other priorities.

janecook added 10:15 - Jul 18
Michael Obafemi done well in the players ratings I think he was lucky to get more than 2. That had to be the worst performance by a player in a Saints shirt I have ever seen. He just runs around like a headless chicken!!! Next season he needs to go out on loan to get some experience.

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