|Hull City 1 v 2 Southampton|
Saturday, 21st October 2023 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton At Hull City The Preview
Friday, 20th Oct 2023 10:22
The casual onlooker at Saints social media over the last week or so since the draw with Rotherham would not think that this was a Southampton side that is travelling to Hull City looking to make it 3 wins out of 4 and in doing so propel themselves into the play off spots.
I have spent the last fortnight mainly trying to justify the last couple of months of Russell Martin and Southampton FC, not because i am just sticking up for the manager and club out of blind loyalty to either or that I think that they have got everything right, that is far from the case.
I have done so because I think that in football promotion campaigns are over 46 games and are full of ups and downs and that dropping two points against Rotherham is not a good result, but it is not the end of the world either.
As is stands Saints have now started to put the 4 game losing streak and indeed the defensive issues behind them and are now looking more like a team again, so I am going to concentrate on the things that can be changed and that is winning at Hull and not what we did wrong at Sunderland or at home to Leicester or indeed against Rotherham a fortnight ago.
The big question going into this game is whether Taylor Harwood-Bellis will be fit, he limped back from the England U21 squad without playing a game after a hamstring issue in training, hamstrings are very difficult injuries to assess, they happen out of nowhere and can take a matter of days or for that matter weeks or months to recover, so was this one fairly innocuous and in the 10 or so days since he returned to Staplewood is now fine again or is it going to be a longer issue.
If he is fit THB plays, if he doesn't then his replacement is a fairly easy choice, Mason Holgate should replace him.
Like Russell Martin, Mason Holgate should not be judged early, not on his 3 appearances so far for Southampton, but on his pedigree as a player and his ability to do the job.
He has 126 appearances for Everton in the premier League to his name, the bulk of them in a 3 season spell where he looked the part in the centre of their defence, he also has a half season at West Brom in the Championship.
In truth although his performance at Sunderland was poor, he was no worse than those around him, his first 45 minutes against Middlesbrough were fine, until he got caught on the ball and I don't entirely blame him for that and I think it was wrong to take him off at half time for that one.
Since then he has played just once and that came in the final minute against Stoke, plus 10 minutes of injury time where he played a part in ensuring we held on to our 1-0 lead and took all 3 points.
Promotion seasons are about using the squad and most of our rivals won't be able to call upon a player with that experience from the bench when injury hits.
So i think that will potentially be a change for the trip to Humberside.
Other than that I would hope that Russell Martin will not deviate too much from the starting line up that took on Leeds & Stoke, we have a core side that is good enough to not only make the play offs but grind down the opposition in getting into the top two come the end of the season, the crucial thing being the depth of the squad.
But depth can be a problem for a manager as he has to keep everyone happy and that I feel has been Russell Martin's problem, as I have said in a different article, Defensive Issues Sorted is that at times he tends to make too many substitutions, a multiple substitution against Rotherham was more the cause of not winning the game than possession football, he needs to keep things simple.
So for me the side should be
KWP, THB/Holgate, Bednarek, Manning.
S Armstrong, Smallbone, Downes,
Sulemana A Armstrong, Alcaraz.
McCarthy, Bree, Aribo, Adams, Charles, Fraser, Mara, Edozie and then one from Doyle, Amo-Ameyaw, Dibling.
That is a strong squad and it would be my preferred starting XI although I could be persuaded to bring in Shea Charles into the centre of defence.
The season is now about grinding out results, we have stemmed the losing streak and started an unbeaten run, we now have to turn this into a long unbeaten run and a winning streak of our own.
We win at Hull and then at Preston and the rest of the promotion chasing pack will have not only started to look over their shoulder, but could be looking up at us.
All that matters is the next game and keeping a winning run going.
So 3 points at Hull and we are starting to move onwards and upwards, promotion is not won by clubs who are in turmoil, it is won by those that keep grinding out the results and do so backed by their supporters, it is won by a united front, if Ryan Manning scores the winning goal at Hull and celebrates at the end in front of 2,000 jubilant Saints supporters, I see that as positive, nothing else and i hope that he repeats it next week.
Hull start Saturday one place ahead of us on goal difference, but their position in the table is based on their away forms where they have won 3 and drawn once, as opposed to at home where they have won just the once and drawn 4, the solitary win coming in the second game of the season against Sheffield Wednesday who as we know are rock bottom and a club in turmoil.
This division is not great in quality, as we have seen in previous seasons, clubs in the bottom 3 at Xmas can get in the play offs and vice versa, early pace setters can drop down the table.
We need to sit in the middle and just keep grinding the results out.
With respect to Hull we can go there and win and if we do then that is another step forward.
Photo: Action Images
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Blogs 31 bloggers
Knees-up Mother Brown #14 by wessex_exile
The blog returns with KMB14, after another awayday last weekend and first visit for me to Edgeley Park to see the U’s pit their wits against the heir apparent champions Stockport County. Despite a stewarding fubar that I’ve probably mentioned more than enough already, it was a good day out overall, with the U’s more than a match for Stockport for most of the game, apart that is from a 90 second lapse in concentration either side of half-time. Certainly no disgrace though, and with the U’s getting straight back on the bike midweek with a comfortable 1-0 victory over League 1 Posh (albeit against largely their second string), I think we can look forward to this afternoon against promotion contenders Barrow with a degree of confidence.
Knees-up Mother Brown #13 by wessex_exile
KMB13, and this weekend I’m sure we will all, in our own way, pause to remember the fallen. With war again raging in Europe, and the Middle East aflame, I’m sadly reminded of the lyrics of Eric Bogle.
Knees-up Mother Brown #12 by wessex_exile
It’s a wet, windy first weekend of November, which can mean only one thing – it’s the magic of the FA Cup again! Today we face a trip to the New Meadow, home of League 1 Shrewsbury Town. I’ve never been to the New Meadow, my last trip to Salop was to watch the U’s win 2-1 in our FA Cup second round match at Gay Meadow back in December 2005 – and what a day that was too. That match was featured in Matches of Yesteryear #20, and it was pleasing to see it was the focus of a club interview with Greg Halford last week. There is also something very noteworthy about today – unless my calculations are awry, this will be our 200th appearance in the world’s greatest cup competition.
Knees-up Mother Brown #11 by wessex_exile
Well, following the U’s has been a bit of a rollercoaster through the last week. Ben Garner’s U’s slumped to a very poor home defeat last Saturday against Harrogate Town, despite taking the lead with a sublime strike from Chay Cooper. Robbie had seen enough, and that evening Ben was let go, with U21 lead coach Matty Etherington announced as the interim Head Coach on Monday. On Tuesday night, Matty Etherington’s U’s put in one hell of a shift, to come away from Grimsby (Cleethorpes – ed.) with all three points and a masterclass from Arthur Read – happy days, could Matty be our man? Well, not right now that’s for sure, after a call to Robbie from Crawley Town yesterday letting him know that apparently Matty is tied up in a contract exit clause from his brief spell at Crawley, seemingly forbidding him from operating in a head coach/ manager role until May 2024 (when his Crawley contract would have expired). So, Matty Etherington is stood down, with Assistant Head Coach Scott Marshall stepping up as our new interim Head Coach for the tough trip to Accrington Stanley.
Knees-up Mother Brown #10 by wessex_exile
Back again, after another U’s-induced matchday ‘experience’ at FGR, and what an experience it was. What was already a poor match between two poor sides descended into insanity after the red card for Mingi, with the U’s dismantled repeatedly to let four second half goals in. I hardly ever leave a game before the final whistle, but as the board went up for nine more minutes I’d seen enough and me and Alfie headed out for our lift home (and as a result, missed the frank exchange of views between players and supporters at the end). However, let’s focus on the positives, whatever was said, a much changed U’s were a different team on Tuesday at League 1 Cambridge. The U’s thoroughly deserved the win and their Pizza Slice Trophy three points, thanks in no small part to an excellent performance from Chay Cooper.
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