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Southampton 3 v 0 Watford
FA Cup
Tuesday, 6th February 2024 Kick-off 19:45
Southampton V Watford The FA Cup Replay Verdict
Tuesday, 6th Feb 2024 23:26

Saints marched on after a lacklustre first half to dominate the second and in the end cruise to an easy victory, that could have been 5 or 6, now they will get the chance to test themselves against Premier League opposition as they travel to Liverpool in the next round.

As expected Russell Martin rang the changes, but this time instead of the 9 changes in the first game up at Watford, he made just 7 from the side that beat Rotherham on Saturday for the replay, keeping much of the spine intact with Jan Bednarek, Flynn Downes, Will Smallbone and Che Adams staying in place.

Truth was the first half was a little disappointing, although Saints dominated and had the better of the chances, it was still 0-0 at the break.

Sekou Mara was one who looked lively though in the first half and created a great chance for Che Adams and in the second half he didn't take long to open the scoring, firing home in the 52nd minute and then 6 minutes later doubling the lead with a scorching shot that had the crowd on it's feet.

Now the game had swung firmly in Saints favour and Watford seemed to know it, Saints kept the ball, they passes and they swaggered and the crowd were enjoying themselves now.

Russell Martin again didn't try to make big changes until the game was well and truly won, prior to the third goal by Che Adams in the 76th minute (Perhaps a good omen here) the only change had been to take off Tyler Dibling to a standing ovation, the youngster had shown that he had pace, he had strength and he wasn't awed by the occasion or the opposition.

He reminded me a little bit of Matt Le Tissier, a little bit of Jack Grealish, but with strength and pace.

After the 3rd went in it was a triple change on 77 minutes and now Saints truly gave Watford the run around as their fans headed for the exits.

It could have been even more in the final 10 minutes or so, both Sam Edozie & Sam Amo-Ameyaw hit posts and several other chances could have gone in.

So it is easy to wax lyrical about some of the youngsters and we have to be careful to not get too carried away, some will say it was only Watford and they too had made changes to their side, but this was also a side with changes for us and our youngsters were up to the challenge, all three goals were scored before we brought on the big guns.

Jayden Meghoma looked the part at left back and slotted in well, Tyler Dibling I have already covered, he could truly play a bigger part in the Championship this season Shea Charles looked strong at right back and then there was Sekou Mara.

Mara has had some stick this season and many forget that he is still only 21 and learning his trade, today he showed he has listened and learned and he too staked a case for more game time, he took his too goals very well and created several chances for others that could have been put away.

He looked strong and he looked confident, he is a good asset to be able to bring on in the Championship late in the game.

Sam Edozie returned from injury and showed he too is ready to show that he has a lot to offer going forward, Sam Amo-Ameyaw looked eager to show that he is pushing for a chance in the League again at some stage.

So 24 games undefeated and apparently now a club record, not just since joining the league but in all time.

So we march on and although I do offer a word of caution here, it was still a result against a side in the same division as us, it wasn't a side two leagues below, our youngsters put in a shift against those they may well face later in the season in the League and came through.

But now we face the biggest test of the season, a trip to Anfield to take on Liverpool and a daunting task for any Premier League side, let alone one from the Championship.

Russell Martin will have a dilemma, does he stick with his strategy of changing the side for FA Cup games and to be frank the trip to Anfield comes smack bang in the middle of a run of games that starts on Saturday 10th Feb against Huddersfield and ends at Leicester City on 16th March where including Liverpool we play 9 games in 5 games.

We will find out on Wednesday 28th in what is now a crucial part of the season where we will truly find out where this season is going.

Photo: Action Images

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WestSussexSaint added 23:46 - Feb 6
The less said about the first half the better. RMs half time team talk did the trick as the second half the team moved the ball quicker and were far more direct. I thought Mara was chief culprit in the first half for wasting attacking chances but credit where credit is due as he took his goals well. Credit also to Che Adams whose assist for the first was sublime and a well taken third was deserved.

The stand out player for me was Tyler Dibling (who is Dibden?). He turned the left back of Watford inside out and drove Saints forward with some dynamic runs. Watfords only answer was to repeatedly foul him. On that note, I have no idea what the referee was watching most of the time - worst ref so far this season.

Finally best chant of the night - “Wesley, Wesley, what’s the score???” Priceless.

TimSaint added 00:29 - Feb 7
Mara was worst player on the pitch in the first half. Apart from setting up Adams, he did nothing but give the ball away, mis-pass or mis-control, slow up our break away attacks and when the goal was gaping on 30 mins, instead of shooting with his left foot, he cut inside to get it on his right and was tackled.
Fair play though, he was a different player 2nd half, took his goals well including the first with his left foot and maybe should have had a hat trick - curling 1 just wide and unselfishly passing when in a decent position to shoot himself.
Great to see all the youngsters play and contribute - a lot more than they did at Vicarage Road. Lots of intricate passing between them too, just a shame the woodwork prevented a real drubbing.

Bowlercow added 09:47 - Feb 7
Watford came to kick us off the park and were aided and abetted by a sub standard referee In fairness he gave us some free kicks that were offy as well
In the first half I was disappointed by Joe Rothwell's performance He never seemed to be in a position where he could influence things
A lot of missed passes and poor crosses added to the fouls prevented us creating chances in the first half
After the break we looked much slicker and created more Mara took his goals well and was unlucky not to get a hat trick
Mara was motm but I thought Diblong and the ever reliable Downes pushed him very close

halftimeorange added 11:02 - Feb 7
I thought that all the youngsters contributed well, despite rough manhandling by a mature Watford side short on skill and, as others have stated, a referee who put in as shoddy a performance as I have seen (and that's saying something this season). Dibling and Edosie were given scant protection and both were booked for diving which seemed worse than harsh. As for Seko Mara, although he wouldn't take on his man on the outside in the first half but, he isn't an out and out winger and he was always involved, which didn't apply to Che who was only seen in fits and starts. For me Downes was the star, with Smallbone a close second. Sadly, the youths who occupied many seats around me in the Kingsland chose to address Will as "Baldy" and Seko as "Useless". It was useful that Seko made them choke on their words. And, hey, Joe Lumley - he's got smart feet, ain't he!

DorsetIan added 12:02 - Feb 7
I agree about Mara. So many attacks in the first half came to a full stop with him at the edge of the area. Meghoma, who I thought was excellent, was more effective when attacking from those positions.

And I had only seconds earlier commented that Mara seemed to have moved more central when he scored his first.

His second goal is, I think, a contender for goal of the season at St Mary's. A lovely litte chip from within a crowd of players from Charles to get the ball to Dibbling and then he cleverly slowed down before accelerating away on his great run. And then a strike from Mara to let us understand why Martin has been quoted as saying he's the best finisher in the club.

Given the changed and largely inexperienced side, it wasn't that bad a thing to go in at 0-0 but the same team then steamrollered Watford in the second half.

All good. A great night.

SaintEPW added 16:58 - Feb 7
Mara looked a great deal stronger than he has in the past - maybe he is putting in some heavy duty extra training

Saidou added 20:46 - Feb 7
Will Smallbone has impressed me a lot. Everytime he passes the ball forward he runs inside the box and more often than the opponent loses track of him. JWP used to do the same runs for England in the few games that the manager was brave enough to play him ahead of the fancy names. But like JWP, Smallbones teammates dont feed him enough.

If smallbone improves his finishing, he would easily score 20 odd goals a season.

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