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West Bromwich Albion 0 v 2 Southampton
SkyBet Championship
Friday, 16th February 2024 Kick-off 20:00
Southampton At West Bromwich Albion The Verdict
Saturday, 17th Feb 2024 22:08

Saints had to show that they could bounce back from the defeat at Bristol City by getting a result at The Hawthorns and Russell Martin rang the changes and his side responded with a solid performance that proved some of the doubters wrong.

West Brom had built their march into the play offs on their home form and therefore they went into their game against Saints as favourites, but Russell Martin had other ideas.

The problem with the previous two defeats had been defending on the break and Martin brought back Jack Stephen’s into the back four employing him as a left back, in many respects replicating how he had solved the problem a few months ago when James Bree came into the side.

Also back was Stuart Armstrong and Ryan Fraser and as predicted in the preview, Sekou Mara was given a start up front.

From the kick off it was clear that their was a resilience and bounce in the team that was missing at Ashton Gate on Tuesday, you could see that this was a game that Saints were not going to lose.

The first 20 minutes or so saw Saints in control topped off by a superb finish by Ryan Fraser, the Wee Man slotting home after 14 minutes to put us into the lead.

But West Brom were in no mood to let Southampton win easily and if we had the better of the first period of the half, they came back strongly in the last 20 minutes of the 45 and we had to dig in and defend.

The only real scare coming when Jack Stephen’s clearly handled the ball, however luckily for us the referee did not have the benefit of VAR or TV replays and so Stephen’s offence went unpunished.

The Saints defender atoned for his error moments later though when he cleared the ball off the line from a ball flicked on from a corner.

The second half saw the Baggies stat strongly and Russell Martin made his first changes on 58 minutes when he brought on Joe Aribo in place of Shea Charles and Sam Edozie on for Ryan Fraser the fresh legs saw Saints start to reimpose themselves on the game.

10 minutes later David Brooks entered the fray in place of Adam Armstrong and it was the Bournemouth loanee who would fire home the second goal on 73 minutes with Edozie providing the assist.

Now Saints were in command and just had to see out the remaining 17 minutes plus injury time, they did so with calm confidence, in the final 8 minutes Sulemana came on to add pace and Joe Rothwell for experience and West Brom fans knew their team was done.

So a great result at one of the hardest places to win in the Championship and it showed that we have the staying power to continue the push for promotion.

But although Saints would move back into 2nd place, it would just be for a matter of hours with Leeds winning at Plymouth to restore their 2 point lead, albeit having played a game more.

The only positive result for us was that Leicester lost at home to Middlesbrough.

With Ipswich also winning this was a result that Saints had to get or it would have seen them drop down in the automatic promotion battle.

Now the focus moves to Tuesday’s game against Hull City, a win would jump us back above Leeds and also within 8 points of Leicester, although I feel we are running out of games in the chase to get above them.

Hull will be no push overs, but they struggled to beat Huddersfield this afternoon only doing so with a late injury time winner.

But all in all a satisfying nights work at The Hawthorns, every man in the squad did their job and did it well, both the manager and the players showed that the result at Bristol City was one of those things and we are still a good side and even good sides have bad results.

But as the weekend’s results have shown, this promotion race is far from a foregone conclusion, only Leicester can have real hope of automatic promotion, we are still in a 3 team battle for that 2nd promotion spot and it is going to go to the wire.

Photo: Action Images

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Southamptonfan added 22:29 - Feb 17
I wouldn't rule out top spot quite yet. All ifs and buts, but win Tuesday and Saturday and Leicester lose to Leeds, the gap is 5 points. If we then beat them at their place, the gap is 2 points. Maybe unlikely, but all perfectly possible. As we know things can change. Both us and Ipswich play Tuesday. Leicester will start to feel the pressure.

halftimeorange added 22:30 - Feb 17
I agree with the summary above. I was surprised at Jack Stephens performance, not flawless but, mainly steady and the penalty would've been harsh. Gavin Bazunu gave us several hairy moments when passing the ball out from the back and, as his kicking is largely pinpoint I wonder why he entertains so many short passes however, he saved a certain goal with his quick feet and reaction late in the game. I felt for Mara. He wasn't given much to work with in terms of through balls and took to throwing himself to the ground in search of free kicks. My only other comment is that we are a better side when Stuart Armstrong is on song and, thankfuly, he was on Friday.

IanRC added 23:40 - Feb 17
Please sort out an extension to Stuart Armstrong’s contract, such a good player.

felly1 added 00:07 - Feb 18
They'd won 5 on the bounce at home and scented blood after our defeat at Bristol City, but when Corberan got sent off it felt like a momentum shift.
Armstrong A was the only poor performer.
Armstrong S MOTD.

davidargyll added 07:07 - Feb 18
Some would argue that doing the same thing over and over only leads to the madhouse. Friday night’s performance proved that for us this simply isn’t the case. We repeated what we have done for 25 games before Tuesday’s game and voila…!

A terrific game, which surprised me, not by the performance but the result, which only goes to show that, as I said earlier in the week, LUCK PLAYS A VERY IMPORTANT PART IN THE OUTCOME OF FOOTBALL. MATCHES. Was JS guilty of a handball? No doubt VAR would have given it. But did JS then make a world-class save off the line? No question. Should SA have had penalty? VAR would certainly have given that too.
All cases of luck either for or against us but whatever, it all added up to…a Saints victory regardless.

But I must praise you Nick for giving a very objective view of JS’s overall performance, which was fine and emphasising that it’s the team performance that counts not individuals. Loads of contributors (on the Forum and here) have a real downer on Jack and seem to want a perfect 10 every time out of him he walks out onto the pitch and an 8 or 9 simply won’t cut it.

Has it not occurred to those bozos that some players are always going to better than others, some will have off days and some will have on days, but most importantly we are now playing as a superb TEAM of human beings,with all their foibles and weaknesses but yes strengths, because they are not automatons.

Of course every fan is going to get hacked off over a poor pass or a missed opportunity, but if you look at the game yesterday, AS A WHOLE, it was a superb TEAM performance so let’s accept it as such and stop criticising individuals.


WestSussexSaint added 07:15 - Feb 18
There is no doubt that the performance and result was our best away from SMS this season. In a week where we had too tough matches I would argue our promotion credentials are now stronger at the end of the week than it was at the start. Saints could have easily focused on maintaining the unbeaten run and got two draws. But we are better off by a point and the spirit in the camp must be sky high.

We can’t control what Leicester and in particular Leeds and Ipswich do until we play then so let’s just keep taking each next opponent on its merit and do our thing!

JoeEgg added 07:30 - Feb 18
The performance at West Brom was in stark contrast to the way we conducted ourselves at Bristol City - we deserved to beat West Brom and we deserved to lose to City. And then Bristol go and lose a few days later to relegation threatened QPR!
I was concerned about our midfield without Downes, but after some poor performances by his standards, Stuart Armstrong stepped up to the plate and saved the day. Only Adam Armstrong and Sean Charles were below par for me and at Albion we saw a heart-warming team performance.
Although there were phases in the game when we came under pressure, we came out of the blocks showing a completely different approach to the game showing the energy and ambition that was totally lacking at Bristol. Sooner or later Baz is going to give an assist to our opponents through his nerve shattering passes out from his goal, but with Bednarek and Harwood-Bellis in fine form our defence had recovered from two shaky performances. However, probably time to STOP looking for weaknesses and inconsistencies.
I believe that the most reassuring factor now for Saints fans at the moment is that Russell Martin is doing a great job, knows the players better than we do, and should be trusted to do the very best for our Club. It is becoming pointless picking on individual players for odd mistakes and the occasional poor performance. Better now - and I never though that I would be saying this earlier in the season - to put our trust in the manager and his team, and what will be will be!

harrapuk added 09:20 - Feb 18
I thought their manager was unlucky. It looks like the ball goes out of play for a micro second and he tries to stop it for the throw in. The only bizarre thing is that his players try to play on as if nothing had happened.

mattlegod added 09:54 - Feb 18
Some very balanced comments above. A great result and a terrific show of will, togetherness and desire from the team and the manager.

I want to second a comment from above.. we need to tie Stuart Armstrong to another contract, he is such a valuable asset to the team and squad.

mattlegod added 09:57 - Feb 18
Ps. I can't help thinking RM is our new Nigel Adkins, I love his positive attitude, balanced views and he clearly has the players commitment 100%

Farlow added 10:04 - Feb 18
I Thought Jo Aribo made a massive difference when he came on,because at the time WBA were getting the upper hand.A super left foot gives us balance and he is very strong.
Stuart A thoroughly deserved MOM.Mara seems to be getting stronger which is a good sign.
Great save from Bazunu.Great come back performance and good to see Bree on the way back.

kenchilds70 added 16:27 - Feb 18
Agreement with most comments, but would like to just add a discussion point, is the hold up on both Adams and S Armstong contract ANYTHING to do with the question of what division will we be in next season. For us its advantageous to wait for players it could be a chance worth taking. Adams i dont thinlk will get any mega offere from premier league teams. Stuart could walk in to quite a few. Just a thought

ItchenNorth added 16:53 - Feb 18
Our most significant win of the season so far. After losing our unbeaten run the chasing pack in Ipswish, Leeds and even West Brom would have been looking to see how if affected us. To go away to West Brom and put in a solid 0-2, sent out a clear message to everyone; that we are not going anywhere anytime soon.

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