Fulham Defeat Eases Pressure On Southampton
Saturday, 10th Apr 2021 08:41
After an awful run of defeats the more pessimistic Saints supporters were nervously looking over their shoulders and claiming that the St Mary's side were heading towards relegation, but Fulham's last minute defeat has eased pressure on any lingering worries.
The hard fought win over Burnley opened up a 10 point gap between Saints and the 3rd from bottom side Fulham, but there were those who still worried about not only Saints ability to win another game, but Fulham's to be able to win 5.
But those that had been looking at the form tables knew that Fulham's surge had fizzled out and although they looked good in games that wasn't transferring into goals and wins so they were flattering to deceive.
For Saints fans the Fulham V Wolves clash was probably best a draw, a point each would still leave the London side 9 points adrift and for Wolves it would mean they were only level with us on 36.
A win for either side would not be good, it would bring Fulham within 7 points or push Wolves two points ahead of us.
In the end it was a Wolves win, a slender 1-0 victory earned by a goal late into second half injury time and it is a result that although will make things feel a lot more comfortable now, could well be one we regret come the final table.
But for now it does mean that barring a total collapse on our part and Fulham winning virtually every game, we are safe.
The reality is that with only 6 games left and three of those trips to Arsenal, Chelsea & Manchester United plus of course their visit to St Mary's, for Fulham the Wolves game represented a game they really had to win with such a tough run of fixtures remaining.
To overtake us Fulham now Fulham have to win at least three games, probably four and that doesn't look possible touch wood.
They are not yet dead and buried they are only two points behind Newcastle, the team they play at home on the final day of the season, but the Geordies have two games in hand at present.
Likewise West Brom whom we play on Monday night, they too have two games in hand over Fulham and are only 5 points behind, they face us knowing that a win will push them within sight of Fulham and more importantly if Newcastle lose at Burnley on Sunday within 5 points of safety.
From a Saints perspective if Newcastle were to beat Burnley that would deflate the Baggies who would start the game against us 11 points adrift of 4th from bottom and knowing it was really last chance saloon for them, the pressure that would put on them could be too heavy a burden.
But if Newcastle were to lose that would inspire West Brom to haul themselves into a position where they could get a head of steam up and surge to safety on the rails.
So a big weekend in the relegation battle has started and Fulham's loss means that Saints fans can look on without too much worry, the biggest worriers will be Sky TV who with the title race already sewn up would be looking to the bottom three to create some interest on the final day of the season, at present that looks highly unlikely.
Photo: Action Images
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Letters from Wiltshire #48 by wessex_exile
“And now the end is near, and so we face the final curtain…regrets, we’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention”. Not quite right Paul Anka, probably more than a few, but otherwise a fair assessment of where the U’s are today. It’ll be interesting to see how we perform with the relegation monkey finally off their back – I’m not expecting miracles, particularly with Tranmere needing at least a point to guarantee making the play-offs, but they’ll certainly be more nervous than we will be, so can we make that count? This will be my last blog of the season, and not yet sure what I may or may not do for next season, but suggestions are always welcome.
Letters from Wiltshire #47 by wessex_exile
Here we are, at the penultimate game of the season, and our last game in front of the cardboard U’s faithful at the JobServe. It has been a long, difficult, and definitely strange season, which frankly I’ll be glad to see the back of. That’ll we’ll be here again in August is definitely going to be something to celebrate, but I suspect we’re facing a summer of significant rebuilding both on the pitch, and possibly off it too. I won’t be the only one, but the biggest oddity for me has been being able to watch every single game – not always easy viewing, but something I’ve never done before, and probably never will again. But it doesn’t really make up for not being there in person, the long train journey away-days, meeting fellow U’s and other supporters, and of course sharing a beer or three. Fingers-crossed we can return to the terraces in 2021/22.
Letters from Wiltshire #46 by wessex_exile
That was quite a week for us all then. In the space of four short but remarkably tense days we have gone from having to take shoes and socks off to check how many more points we need to guarantee survival, or whether we would even achieve it, to breathing a huge sigh of relief knowing we’re almost there. But close of play this afternoon, whether by our own actions or the failure of others, I am sure survival will be confirmed. Of course, Tuesday night not only all but guaranteed it, it also virtually condemned local rivals Southend United to non-league football for the foreseeable. Looking at the host of fully professional former football league sides currently battling it out for the two promotion slots out of the National league (including Hartlepool, Torquay, Stockport, Wrexham, Chesterfield and Notts County), it is not going to be a walk in the park for Southend to return any day soon.
Letters from Wiltshire #45 by wessex_exile
Tonight, Colchester United face Southend United in what may not necessarily be the most important game of our respective histories (though it’s certainly very close), but is almost certainly the most important Essex derby ever. However this season pans out, by the end of it there’ll either be only one team in Essex, or worst case scenario, none at all. If the U’s win, then Southend will be 9pts behind with just three games to go, and a minimum of a -12 goal difference to overturn if they want to overtake us. Certainly mathematically possible, but that would rely on a remarkable turnaround in their form, form that they’ve shown precious little sign of achieving so far this season. The stalking horse is Grimsby, with their game in hand, who have rather belatedly shown an improvement in form, so their match against automatic promotion chasing Morecambe tonight is equally important, particularly if we want to avoid the unthinkable, with both Essex clubs dropping out of the league.
Letters from Wiltshire #44 by wessex_exile
So here we are, as the nation mourns the passing of His Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh, the U’s face the first of two season-defining moments, with our late kick-off match at home to Walsall. Before then, no doubt many will have been focused on events elsewhere, not least the early kick-offs for Grimsby (at home to promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers), and particularly Essex rivals Southend United, who faced a tricky visit to Exeter City – still very much in the hunt for at least a play-off spot. As I finalise this blog, I know that Grimsby have beaten Bolton 2-1, and Southend earned a credible 0-0 draw in the West Country. More to the point, the U’s will know this too. Whilst I can’t help but feel that will ought to be to our advantage, it surely must also put additional pressure on a squad whose confidence is paper-thin. We must hope that Hayden Mullins, assisted by Paul Tisdale, get their heads right, and send the lads out this evening fired up with self-belief.
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