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Bristol City 3 v 1 Southampton
SkyBet Championship
Tuesday, 13th February 2024 Kick-off 20:00
Southampton At Bristol City The Verdict
Wednesday, 14th Feb 2024 14:51

Saints unbeaten run ended with a whimper at Ashton Gate last night, but it had to end sometime and now we lick our wounds and start the next one.

It was a strange feeling and one that we have forgotten as we collapsed in the second half agaianst a Bristol City side that quite frankly played with a lot more energy than we had and wanted it far more.

Russell Martin made the changes that he really should have done on Saturday, Bristol City was always going to be a harder game than Huddersfield, but we got the team selection the wrong way round.

City started the livelier of the two sides, but Saints settled in as the game went on and you thought that in the second half we could put our foot on the accelerator.

It looked that was as Saints started well after the break on came Stuart Armstrong and we could have scored not once but twice in the early exchanges, but then came a shock as City played a quick one two on our left and the ball was crossed for Bell who smashed it home.

But surely this was nothing to panic about, there were still nearly 40 minutes left to get back into the game.

But City had the bit between their teeth and weren’t going to give up easily, Mara and Fraser came on after 62 minutes and we hunted for the equaliser, but the next goal would again fall to the home side, a simple goal where City hit a corner to the back post and to be blunt we didn’t mark our man and it was headed home, still no need to panic after all we were two goals down on Saturday and came back.

But it would be 3 goals conceded for the second game in a row as City sealed the game with 8 minutes left, the unbeaten run was now only minutes from ending and the Adam Armstrong penalty in virtually the last minute of injury time was merely a consolation on the night.

But we should not dwell on this defeat, it had to come sometime, what is done is done, Saints have not become a bad side over night, it was just a bad day at the office.

We now have to put this defeat behind us and move forward again, use this to spur us on, certainly in the last two games of the run we have looked like the run is weighing heavily on our shoulders, it was putting pressure on us to keep it up, now we can take that away and concentrate on the man goal and that is promotion.

Russell Martin will hopefully have learn’t a lesson or two from last night and we can use it to our advantage at West Brom on Friday, the past can’t be changed but the future is unwritten.

Photo: Action Images

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davidargyll added 15:39 - Feb 14
Well it had to happen sometime, everybody gets taken apart occasionally, especially when your luck’s not in. But last night, had KWP’s volley not been saved or SE’s looped off the bar, who knows? A draw at least, maybe even a win, but it wasn’t to be.

Many will say our passing was poor (true), we looked tired (true, particularly in H2), we couldn’t cope with Bristol City’s pressing (true) and quick countering (also true). And there will be lots of clamouring about it being a strange set-up, we didnt have a plan B, Shea Charles is no substitute for Flynn Downes etc.

But when things don’t go your way, you try that much harder, mistakes are magnified, errors creep in, confidence drops a notch and…well we all know the rest…

What matters now is where we go from here. I would frankly be amazed if we don’t lose at least one of next three games (WBA) because a single loss in such a long run would be pretty unprecedented, especially when you’re playing twice a week.

But that isn’t the point. What the players need to do is:
1. carry on with what they are doing, knowing that bad days at the office happen, so get over it.
2. resist the temptation to tweak much if anything, injury/suspension requirements aside, the team would just get in a muddle, but do have someone guarding the back post for the oppo’s corners!
3. absolutely not get downhearted and panic, even if other teams have worked us out, they still they have to exercise it, have the luck with them, and at the same time none of our efforts come off.
4. know that the up-and-coming matches are going to be more of the same, ie hard pressing against us followed by a quick counter, and be ready for it.
5. West Brom will likely be a problem (they concede few goals at home); but Hull and Millwall average only 1.5 and 1 goals away whereas we average over 2.5 at SMS. Remember we are better than all of them.

Quality teams always stumble and we WILL march on.


Centurion added 15:45 - Feb 14
We were well beaten, but it happens.
We are still in a very good position for the play offs and Leeds may well stumble as well as Ipswich.

JoeEgg added 15:58 - Feb 14
An excellent run by Saints came to an end. Like many I have to say that Russell Martin has done a fine job - much better than I thought probable. But it is not just the result of this game that concerns me but the realisation that we might not be quite as good as we were beginning to think.
The warnings were there in recent games, with yet another poor lethargic first half performance and a failure when it matters, to turn shots into goals. Contrast this with Leeds demolition of Swansea.
I have said many times that I believe our main problem is with our 'lightweight' midfield. Bristol City had played as many games as us in recent weeks and were just as entitled to be showing fatigue - they had also had a terrible run of home results. On the night they were so much stronger in the tackles and in the midfield contests where they outnumbered and outmuscled us. Charles is a weak link and I lost count of the mistakes and misplaced passes from Smallbone. Stuart Armstrong is not a great defensive midfield player and our back line needed better protection from a rampant City.
At the same time, I am reluctant to criticise Adam Armstrong but both he and Edozie failed to hit the back of the net despite opportunities, and we rarely looked like scoring.
Nick thinks that RM may have learnt a lesson here to put to our advantage against West Brom - surely a much more formidable adversary than City? We have conceded six goals in two games and in my view looked too lightweight and vulnerable against teams demonstrating the effective application of their physical strength.
Tuesday was a very poor night for Saints, and Friday will show us for sure, just how ready our Squad is for automatic promotion this season.

halftimeorange added 16:29 - Feb 14
I don't think we can single out any players from last night's abject display. Quite frankly, they were all bad in one way or another. Bristol City must have intently watched our game with Huddersfield as they attacked us from the off and we disintegrated, somewhat reminiscent of the Sunderland drubbing we received. It was noticeable against most of our successful run matches that we did not have runners from midfield stretching City's defence and they were able to snuff out our lacklustre attack. This is a very odd season and it remains to be seen whether Leeds and Ipswich have poor patches but, either way, we should have enough in the tank to get to the play-offs. It's not what we want but, if RM can't get the team back on track to achieve automatic promotion, it'll at least be an exciting conclusion to the season.

AmericanSaint added 17:08 - Feb 14
So I have not been on for a while, well the last time we lost. I was so mad at that game in Spetmeber, that I told myself I would not watch another game until we lost again. Boom - 25 wins and a long wait for me. Credit to the team for such an impressive run. Now comes the test of character.

As I watched the replay and highlights, I thought we definitely didnt show up and our passing was abysmal. Even the announcer said he hadnt seem a Saints side give the ball away so many times. Teams win together and lose together, but I want to say one thing about Soulamana. We need to sell him in the summer as all he has is speed and he doesnt even know how to use that. So many times he slowed the game down and then tried tricks and gave the ball away or didnt pass the ball to the cutting player. He doesnt know how to pass and thinks he can beat anyone, when he rarely beats anyone. This is especially true when teams sit back and double their flanks with a midfielder to negate his speed. While he is a luxury he should not start unless we decide to play route 1 football.

Ok, now we will see if we are really up for the fight for automatic promotion or just playing of the playoffs. The lackluster performance last night can either be a blip or a true marker of our malaise. Looking for a big response against WBA and hope the lads realize that every game will be a fight no matter what position in the table the other team is. COYR

IanRC added 17:50 - Feb 14
Thought Manning was absolutely hopeless. Beaten far too easily for their first when he failed to follow his man as they casually played around him and didn't put in any effort to get back for their third allowing their player ages to pick a good pass.

American Saint, unusually I disagree with you. Think Sulemana was trying to hard to impress having been brought on too late, should have played the second half but he still has the potential to be a game changer and we badly need that when Stu is not there or not firing on all cylinders.

Badly missed Downes and Che and I would have preferred to see Mara starting given how out of form AA seems to be, hopefully just temporarily.. Have to say the decision to loan out Alcaraz seems to be a major mistake as he is another who can turn the game on its head.

All that said if Brooks had been able to stretch just an inch further it could have been very different result last night. As it is now they all need to focus on a very important WBA game as lose this and I fear a lot of our momentum will evaporate.

Farlow added 20:31 - Feb 14
I Just think AArmstrong is no good as a centre forward he lacks the physical presence to hold the ball up.I hope Bree is not out too long because Ryan Manning can,t defend.
For me i,d have gone with the line up that finished the Huddersfield game.

WestSussexSaint added 21:44 - Feb 14
I agree with Halftimeorange as every player last night including subs were well below their best and that combined with a spirited Bristol City side led to the inevitable defeat. It’s worth saying though that these are the same group of players that had been undefeated for 25 games before last night so one poor game does not mean we have a bad team.

The key is what happens next. Does RM stick with his principles and what has worked for the last 4 months or so or does he try and force the issue and make some radical changes. I suspect and hope he will stick with what has worked. There might need to be a few tweaks particularly for looking to rest players who are fatigued but the old saying “Don’t panic!” comes to mind.

Reading some of the socials last night the bedwetters weee out in force with some ridiculous statements about how we will miss out on the playoffs and RM should be sacked and half the team are the worst we have ever seen!

No one is denying that last nights game was a disappointment but I think RM and the players deserve our trust and support to believe that this is a blip and they will get back to positive ways quickly.

HythePeer added 23:45 - Feb 14
Play a weakened side, get a weakened result. Saints were terrible to a man. So was the manager. But it's difficult to criticize a team that has done so well.

onetowatch added 09:39 - Feb 15
Everyone is agreed, it was a disappointing performance, but we all recognise what a great run we've been on. My only concern is I can't help but question RMs'constant loyalty to some players. There are comments above stating SC is no replacement for Downes - of course he's not. They're completely different types of players. In the same way WS can't step up and play a more attacking midfield role as Downes does. Personally, given more pitch time, I'm convinced SC is a better holding player than WS, who still seems unable to pass the ball in any direction other than the one he just received it from. So, without Downes available, trying to get the ball forward quicker from midfield, why start without SA????If you're concerned about him lasting 90 mins, then fine - but start with him and take him off if and when there's signs of him tiring. Without those 2 we are so pedestrian in our build up.....everyone can see that, so surely RM does as well?

dowater added 13:23 - Feb 15
I agree with a lot of the comments above, this is only one game, we need to pick up and move forward and stay behind OUR team.

however the comments about Sulemana being poor last night, this was his first game back after injury and we were chasing the game. and like said above, they had 2 lines of defense with defenders sitting deep and midfielders moving in. but i would like to point out, that when i first saw a certain Mane, he was fast with no end product, look at what happened to him, i remember watching him run down the line and cross the ball to row Z, we have the coaches and setup to help him improve and become the player that his potential shows.

however my main concern (which no one has mentioned yet) is our goalkeeper. yes he may be one for the future, he has shown that he was not one for the premier league (yet), he has shown some signs of promise on this run of games and made some good saves. but when you look at some of the teams we have played, the GK has kept them in the game and pulled off some great saves when the defense has gone missing. but when our defense goes walk abouts, i worry that he is not good enough to stand up and be counted for. we all said it two years ago when Frazer left, we needed a quality replacement. we done what we had done in the past and brought a man city youth product. that didn't work then and doesn't seem to be working now. had we had that great shot stopper, i believe that things could have been so different.

first goal, to start with, he is just stood there, then when it comes close, he moves towards the near post, and as the ball passes, he is left in no mans land and doesn't even make an attempt to put a foot to it or a glove or anything, he just watches it. how many times have we seen goalies diving and sticking anything out that they can when that happens. yes they may not get it, but at least they tried. yes i know that our defenders have to take some responsibility, but he is our last line of defense and done nothing.

second goal, again poor defending. but he has moved from the correct position to be, middle of the goal to where the ball is going and we have lots of defenders there, yes the defenders were bad and missed it. but then it loops up and all he can do is half raise his arm and watches. If he is moving into that area, i would expect that to be to fist the ball away or get involved. the chances of the ball going down to the line would be minimal so had he retained his original position, it would have been an easy save. i want to see some effort and at least an attempt to get the ball.

goal 3, nothing he could do beyond watch, so no criticism there.

but when you look at Bristol's keeper, he made a good save when one on one with our player. that saves games and changes things. how many times have we seen goalies make good saves and inspire their defense and get them riled up. i just don't see it from him and i think that's an age thing. he needs to be commanding, shouting at them and having a go at them, not just whimpering in the back ground.

now i know that i may come in for some stick for this, but just my humble opinion and ready to listen to for you to try and change my mind.

NewburySaint added 13:29 - Feb 15
davidargyll, amazing post and so, so true - if i could keep clicking the up arrow i would!!

davidargyll added 13:52 - Feb 15
NewburySaint, clearly you are a very good judge of character, but modesty forbids me from giving your post an uptick...!

LoisDeem added 17:23 - Feb 15
Our problems have always been rooted in defence, though you can't blame individuals.
Teams that attack us -regardless of personnel -will cause us a problem, and this has been apparent in some of our narrow victories, draws and even some of those games we managed to make look one sided by numbers -the Thornhills for example.
When we defend from the front, protecting a vulnerable defence, press or counter in numbers and at pace we can usually win. We must not go back into our shell, if we play, we're better.
Simple, if we don't we won't go up automatically, and may struggle getting to -or out of- the playoffs.

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