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Southampton 1 v 0 Bristol City
SkyBet Championship
Wednesday, 29th November 2023 Kick-off 19:45
Southampton V Bristol City The Verdict
Thursday, 30th Nov 2023 13:33

Saints fans will consider this a game of two halves and that their team was poor in the first half and good in the second, but that would be a little unfair on the visitors who came to firstly clamp down on the game and secondly to go on the break.

Bristol City have one of the meanest defences in the Championship and it was clear that the way they have achieved that is by three rows of defensive players and a lone striker up front, they were content to pass the ball around when they got possession and quick to hoof it forward.

This made for a very frustrating first half for Southampton as they tried to impose themselves on the game and not helped by a referee who seemed quick to give fouls against them and brandish yellow cards, but not so fast for Bristol City's indiscretions.

Saints had their chances, but it was City who had the best chances, heading over the bar from close range and Gavin Bazunu called into action for an acrobatic save from an in swinging cross and also standing up big and brave before plunging to grab the ball as the City attacker clean through on goal attempted to round him.

It is fair to say though the natives were restless at the half time whistle, some were impatient, most hoped that we would be a little better in the second half.

They got the answer after the restart when Kyle Walker Peters took the ball in his stride from Adam Armstrong and cut across to unleash a curling shot into the far corner to give Saints the lead and this was a pivotal moment.

For the rest of the half we should have dominated and if there was really one gripe we should have doubled the lead and put the game to bed, but when we didn't we stuck to our task and made sure that the visitors rarely got a chance to equalise.

As the game wore on we grew in confidence, especially Charley Alcaraz who started to get that swagger and instead of playing simple balls when facing his own goal turned and ran at players, it was good to see.

As the game wore on City started to huff and puff more, but Saints were more of a match defensively and saw the game out with relative ease for a 10th match unbeaten and 24 points out of the last 30 to move back into 4th place.

Overall there has been a lot of muttering about the Huddersfield game and the first half of this one, but the truth in the last two games we have cut the lead of the top two and they are now starting to look over their shoulders.

Perhaps at times this is not the most exciting football to watch, but we are not there for excitement, we are there to see our team win and take another step towards promotion.

We have now sorted out the defence, we just now need to sort out scoring more goals and I saw enough in how we are adapting the game and players finding the confidence to turn and take players on to suggest that we will fix this side of our game.

A 1-0 win is sometimes the most satisfying of scores, it means that everyone has done their job, the goalkeeper who is starting to grow in confidence and stature, the defence who in the main were tight, the midfield who showed they can adapt when changes are made and the strike force who were unlucky not to see a couple more go in.

It was a team win and perhaps the last word should go to Ryan Manning, yes he put a few balls awry, but he was far from the only culprit in that respect, but his final action was vital in the final minute of the game as he chased back and held off a City player bursting through on the right and did enough to make sure that he could not do any damage before reinforcements arrived, perhaps not a goal of the quality of Kyle Walker Peters, but just as vital to the final scoreline.

It was his final action of the game being injured in the process, but you could see his team mates appreciated his effort and the contribution made.

Photo: Action Images



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IanRC added 14:08 - Nov 30
Agree the referee was incredibly biased in terms of booking and penalising us whilst giving them free rein. Disagree about Manning, yes he did well at the end but on at least one occasion he gave a way in a critical position and was fortunate to see someone else race back to save us.

Overall I thought this was another frustrating performance with too little intent to shoot when the chance arose, has our manager told them they have to walk the ball into the net all the time. I agree a bright spot was the swagger and skill that Charlie started to show but he was as guilty as others at failing to shoot when he had the opportunity. Thought Shea Charles, Gavin Bazunu and of course KWP had particularly good games.

Hope Sulemana’s injury is not too bad and bad news that Ross Stewart and Dom Ballard are injured too. On a side note has everyone seen Molly Pike’s brilliant goal against Arsenal on YouTube ?, a definite goal of the season contender.
3

underweststand added 14:09 - Nov 30
No it wasn't fun watching but we woke up in the second half and managed to score 1 goal. Dare we complain about 10 games unbeaten - just because we are not playing attractive football for 90 minutes at a time?
YES - We ought to be scoring more - if you compare shots to goals stats and it causes fans a lot of stress to lose points by conceding late goals ..e.g. Rotherham and Huddersfield, but surely Hull, Preston and Millwall fans are asking the same question.

It was 3 points in a home game - against a Bristol side who had a well-organised defence
so perhaps it's still good promotion form. Nine games will see us upto 1st January and so if we can maintain some unbeaten form - regardless of how we get the points - we'll have to grin and bear it if it keeps us un the top 6. .
2

stmichael added 14:15 - Nov 30
Manning did well to track back but the fact he pulled a muscle doing so tells you everything you need to know 🤷‍♂️
Just prior Downes got him off the hook after a catastrophic pass saw us outnumbered on the break.
His delivery was the usual poor standard and he stood off players as per usual because he just does not have the pace to defend properly.
There is no way he should be playing ahead of Bree…
9

JoeEgg added 14:22 - Nov 30
"the truth in the last two games we have cut the lead of the top two and they are now starting to look over their shoulders"

I think the point was made in the Forum that during the past 10 games all the top sides have very similar records, so the 'shoulders' comment is irrelevant. The top six teams all seem very consistent and it will be hard to make up for the four consecutive defeats that Saints suffered before our good run started.
If we can continue to win the vast majority of our games 1-0, I dont suppose many will complain, but 1-0 always leaves you vulnerable and we have Bazunu to thank for not suffering the same fate against Bristol City as we did at Huddersfield.
My main concern now is the inability to build on leads and put the game to bed. I suppose this is still a much better position to be in than when previously we were desperately looking for a way to stop conceding so many goals!
I said before the Bristol match that I would like to see KWP brought forward into the midfield - this would allow both Bree and Manning to play as full backs; and give KWP more opportunities to add that exciting and effective spark into our attacks.without having to remember his defensive duties.
From Wednesday's game you could also see that Alcaraz is another player who can usually be relied upon to make things happen.
My final piece in the jigsaw was going to be Ross Stewart! This current setback looks ominous and most probably at best he will be vulnerable to more injuries throughout the season. We lack the ideal partner for Adam Armstrong and maybe we should be regretting the departure of Tella and the failure to tempt Danny Ings back!
Cardiff should see our usual 80% possession statistic, but it remains so frustrating that we still cant find a natural goalscorer.
3

Whatsforpud added 14:32 - Nov 30
Man of the match - Bazunu. One outstanding save in each half, and quick and timely on coming out to rescue situations. His 40 yard passes are usually accurate, having now found that it is not necessary to pass within the penalty area every time.
6

ItchenNorth added 14:35 - Nov 30
A win is a win. It was not pretty, but not every game has to be. The most important thing is 3 points and our unbeaten run goes on.

Charley Alcaraz was again excellent. He played the false 9 in the first half but tracked back into midfield all game. He puts a real shift in. He was asked to play wide left when Sulemana went off. He was at the centre of everything positive going forward for the Saints from midfield.

Bazunu was first class (again) and Shea Charles and KWP played well too.

We do need a number 9. Hopefully, Russ Stewert can get fit and lead the line for us in the second half of the season.
6

SanMarco added 14:37 - Nov 30
Good result - another patchy performance though. We need to put these games to bed earlier. 1-0 could have easily been 1-1 again.

Having said that - 24 points out of 30 is excellent and it is the conceding of far less goals during those games that have made the difference. To have any hope of automatic promotion we need to continue that and start scoring a few more goals.
6

davidargyll added 14:37 - Nov 30
There’s only a handful of teams in the Championship whose fans are NOT forever bemoaning the fact that “we just don’t have anybody who can score goals.” And the Saints are starting to look like one of that handful, ie we do seem to score regularly consistently now. Look at Huddersfield last weekend and BC last night: in both cases we could have been two or three down if either of them had got a decent striker, and our defence hadn’t (sort of!) kept them out.

As it is we have AA and of course KWP who scored a real beauty last night - and very similar to Huddersfield’s at the weekend. And then there’s Ross Stewart waiting in the wings (hopefully back soon). OK Che hasn’t been bringing a lot to the party - but perhaps he’ll get more game time in the next few games and improve - and Sulemana will likely be out for a few weeks but even so that’s a lot better than most teams. Maybe not PL standard but I do feel we are improving bit by bit.

But regardless, when the oppo plays 5-4-1 as last night, the fact that we did manage to break them down I think is a credit to us, boring though for the most part the game may have been.

So a win and a clean sheet? Better than fancy football any day of the week.

PS. Yes, we may only be keeping up with the other top teams over the last 10 games in terms of points but we will see what happens as injuries start to take their toll. Ok so losing Sulemana (and Stewart is clearing taking linger to get right) is a blow but others in the leading pack will have problems too and the promoted ones will be those whose lesser players step up to the plate. Here’s hoping it’s us.
4

SaintPaulVW added 14:56 - Nov 30
It wasn't a perfect performance, however it was a clean sheet and a win. Do those who criticise really pay that much close attention to how other teams are getting their points?

I don't really understand why Manning comes in for so much stick. He's this season's scapegoat. Saints are very odd in that we always seem to need one player to lay into each season. Saw lots of mistakes last night but only one person being constantly picked up for his.

Not too sure why some people seem obsessed with us being 'lucky' to win and 'it won't last'. It's 10 games now, not too sure it's luck anymore. It may not be pretty and most attacks may break down but football is a game of fine margins and we keep on doing enough to stay ahead or match the opposition. That isn't luck.

Finally we play a modern style of football, very few sides repeatedly lump it forward into space now. If you can control a football and hence the direction of the game and the clock why repeatedly gift possession back to the other side? Playing a great pass into space for someone to is always welcome. Simply kicking the ball away to clear the defence like we used to do all the time over the last few seasons is weak and counter productive.

All in all if after last season you had told me we'd be fourth on a long unbeaten run having made up 6 points in a month on the league leaders I would have taken it.

COYR - same again Saturday please

2

Bowlercow added 15:56 - Nov 30
KWP was awarded MotM because of his overall performance and a great goal Disregard the goal and for me Charles would have been MotM He was aggressive in the tackle and always wanted to play forward
Baz had two top class saves and controlled his six yard box A much better performance Alcaraz also put in a top class performance and kept it up even when he had to change position when Kammy had to go off

I thought Stu was a little below par and could possibly be rested against Cardiff
Manning did enough to guarantee Bree gets a start on Saturday
3

Bowlercow added 15:56 - Nov 30
KWP was awarded MotM because of his overall performance and a great goal Disregard the goal and for me Charles would have been MotM He was aggressive in the tackle and always wanted to play forward
Baz had two top class saves and controlled his six yard box A much better performance Alcaraz also put in a top class performance and kept it up even when he had to change position when Kammy had to go off

I thought Stu was a little below par and could possibly be rested against Cardiff
Manning did enough to guarantee Bree gets a start on Saturday
0

halftimeorange added 16:38 - Nov 30
I thought the ref had a stinker but, so did Stuart Armstrong, constantly losing the ball and playing too short through balls. I can't mention one without the other. Did anyone else notice how accurate Bristol City's cross field balls were, Although they made plenty of errors they were much more incisive than Saints who faffed around again to the point of being boring. As for KWP well, he constantly shows us that he's consistently a cut above everyone else and we are really lucky to have retained his services this season. Alcaraz and Charles both looked stars in the making but, as everyone else says, there is no way we should be constantly struggling to score more than one goal against generally inferior opposition. It's almost as though our most skillful players have had their attacking ability coached out of them for the sake of tedious keeping the ball. Surely we deserve to be entertained, not groaning at lengthy bouts of insipid football.
2

Farlow added 17:52 - Nov 30
Agree wit St.Michael Bree should start before Manning every time.I have often panned Bazunu but thought he did really well last night making all the right calls.
Russell Matin says we should score more goals.Well to do that you have to show
ambition and shoot more often.I find our style of play very tedious but there is
improvement.Shea Charles had his best game for us so far.
2

bartley41 added 19:03 - Nov 30
Yes the Referee did seem a little harsh against the Saints but no mention in your report of any Yellow Cards given out!
Regrettably we may lose more players before Christmas because of the number of Cards accumulating.
1

eastlondonsaint added 19:16 - Nov 30
A win ! Very happy - lets have another.
0

eastlondonsaint added 19:18 - Nov 30
Up the Scum
1


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