Please log in or register. Registered visitors get fewer ads.
Southampton 3 v 0 Preston North End
SkyBet Championship
Tuesday, 16th April 2024 Kick-off 20:00
Southampton V Preston North End The Verdict
Wednesday, 17th Apr 2024 10:15

There was a big shock for Saints supporters when the teams came in, Jack Stephens wasn't in the starting line up, but that would not be the last shock of the day as Preston were despatched in fine style.

When the team news came through at 7pm there was a shock, Russell martin had gone back to the back four that in the main had seen him through that 22 game unbeaten run in the League.

That meant a return to the starting line up for Jan Bednarek in the centre of the defence and Ryan Manning at left back.

That wasn't the only change, Stuart Armstrong was back in the starting line up as well, as Russell Martin clearly looked to attack.

But when the teams lined up there was another shock, Gavin Bazunu had injured his achilles tendon and bizarrely the manager didn't slot the keeper named on the initial team sheet Joe Lumley into the starting line up, but Alex McCarthy who has been out in the cold since his only appearance of the season back in August, a EFL Cup defeat to Gillingham.

This was a very strange decision and one that mist have puzzled Lumley, surely you would have on the bench throughout the season, the keeper out of the pair you considered the second best keeper, truth was McCarthy aside from an early flourish from Preston saw not much more action than if he had been in his usual seat in the stands.

Saints took a little while to get going, but when they did it was again Adam Armstrong who provided the assist for the opening goal, playing a superb pass for Che Adams to sweep home on 19 minutes.

It was two 10 minutes later as David Brooks played in Che Adams who finished with aplomb past the Preston keeper, now it was Saints firmly in control, but the worry was that like the previous two home games, we would ease off and let the visitors back into the game.

But the only easing was done by Stuart Armstrong, who intercepted a poor clearance and then fired home into the bottom corner to leave the keeper wrong footed.

Now the crowd and the team seemed to have a weight lifted off their shoulders, we were back to our form of October - February, we had our mojo back and by half time it could have been more than the 3 goals on the scoreboard.

But would as in much of the games in the last couple of months would it be a different Saints side in the second half than the first ? that was the big question on most Saints fans lips, yes a three goal lead was a big ask for Preston to catch, but would they like Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Coventry & Watford in the previous 4 home games, come back in the second half and make it very uncomfortable.

The answer was it was a different Saints side in the second half, one that had suddenly learned the rules of game management, yes they played the same possession football game, yes it could be said that at no time did Preston show the fight that those sides mentioned showed in the second half of those games, but it could be said that to a degree, Saints did not give them the chance to do so.

Our attacking play in the second half was restrained, rather than pouring forward, although it did take two outstanding saves from the Preston keeper to keep the score respectable.

But our display was about making sure that we didn't concede and let the visitors see a chink of light.

The substitutions for once were well thought out and made sense, Flynn Downes was off at half time for a well earned rest and on came Shea Charles, who added pace and strength to the midfield to ensure it would not be overrun.

On 70 minutes it was Joe Rothwell & Will Smallbone on for Stuart Armstrong & Joe Aribo, again it took off a little attacking edge, but replaced it with hard workers, a good change, resting two key players and again shoring up the middle of the park

Having done that in the final 15 minutes we could start to bring on fresh legs up front with Sam Edozie & Sulemana coming on.

So the final whistle in some respects was an anti climax, 3-0 up after 33 minutes and no more goals in the final 57, but it was the 3 points that mattered not the number of goals, but what did matter was the manner of performance, this was a side who played with a confidence and discipline lacking from the last 2 months and it was no coincidence.

Hopefully Russell Martin has learned a lesson, he returned to the foundations of the side that took us into the top two, before he tinkered with the side and cost us some dropped points.

So hopefully we will see the basis of this side start against Cardiff on Saturday, the win against Preston has suddenly made the League table look a lot better, we are within catching distance again, if we win our last four games we are guaranteed 3rd place whatever happens, although we would need Leicester & Ipswich to drop points if we were to squeeze into the top spots.

But the opportunity is there, albeit I think we are rueing those late goals from both Ipswich & Middlesbrough, not only now when if we had hung on in both games we would now be in 3rd place and looking good, but also on the final day when I think goal difference may well come back to haunt us.

But all we can do now is win games of football and this performance showed that we are getting back into form, yes Preston were poor, but we also played a part in that, we were clinical both in defending and attacking and also seeing the game out, Preston aren't a bad side, if they had beaten us they would now be in 7th, so we should give our side it's due.

Hopefully Russell Martin has taken note !

Photo: Action Images

Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.

A1079 added 11:01 - Apr 17
A good, professional and clinical performance.

There is not much if anything you can argue or be displeased with.

If I wanted to be picky, it would have been nice to have added to the three goals in the 2nd half and Preston were very poor (and the games coming up will give more of a test I am sure to McCarthy or Lumley) but as far as last night went, it was a job well done by all concerned - the players and the manager. If only we had been like that over Easter etc!!!!!

onetowatch added 11:10 - Apr 17
Excellent first half performance, understandable substitutions in the 2nd half. Though, in the 2nd half we did manage, territory wise, to play a lot of the 45 mins in their half, just less clinical with the final ball and finishing - plus 2 great saves by their keeper.
The only cloud on the horizon for me is, the confidence that RM will continue with the same back 4?
One final comment, I think all Saints fans recognise the value of FD to our side, but, it was so good to see Shea Charles get pitch time, the whole 2nd half. He is so composed under pressure and has a good physical presence in midfield - I would like to see him on the pitch a lot more, and do believe he would be a great pairing in CM with FD.

JoeEgg added 11:11 - Apr 17
"Hopefully Russell Martin has learned a lesson, he returned to the foundations of the side that took us into the top two, before he tinkered with the side and cost us some dropped points."

A quite outstanding first half from the Saints demonstrating just how good we can be when we get the team selection and balance right.
Up front Adams and Armstrong were given better service and we got the ball forward quicker on many occasions. We certainly need these two to remain on form for the final push.
Felt sorry for Lumley but I guess the manager went for experience over youth. The four at the back looked comfortable and with McCarthy in goal surely there will be less tippy tappy play in our penalty area. KWP was involved in everything early on - another plus from not playing three centre backs!
I am sure the manager will use tiredness and the need for rotation as excuses to squeeze his favourites back into the starting line up at some point in the run in, but whereas we could have been home and dry by now, we are fighting a battle royal with three excellent but stuttering sides!

halftimeorange added 11:34 - Apr 17
I don't think I'd be a happy bunny if I was Joe Lumley. Russell Martin's post match comment that he "wanted to see what Alex could do" didn't sound convincing to me. Perhaps he was putting McCarthy in the shop window, as he must have known about his frailties from previous performances. I thought that playing Aribo in front of KWP worked well. Although slightly off his game at first, Joe provided cover to the extent that when a truly lacklustre Preston did manage any attacks it was down our left where Ryan manning was his usual self, sometimes losing the ball but, always battling to win it back. Che Adams also showed a rarely seen sharpness and anticipation in his two scores. I was sad that he didn't get his hat-trick and I though he could've stayed on for longer as we seemed to lose our purpose when he went off and became content to play out the game as a practice session. Shea Charles did his prospects no harm with a commanding 45 minutes. All in all a good performance and satisfying clean sheet.

Farlow added 11:38 - Apr 17
The first 45 minutes we were superb.Hard to be critical but a great chance to equal Ipswich,s
goal difference was missed.I,m concerned that when Che goes off we lose our shape,i guess
if Stewart was fit it would be different.A shame Edozie seems to have lost his way.Nice to see Shea Charles get a decent bit of time on the pitch.
Credit to RM for starting Stuey and Jo together.COYR

LordDZLucan added 12:44 - Apr 17
I think Bazunu getting injured might have done us a favour. Because McCarthy is less comfortable with the ball at his feet to a certain extent we parked the playing out from the back and as a result everything seemed a lot calmer and more controlled. Of course it may have also been down to Preston being poor on the night. We’ll know more after the next game.

131153 added 13:07 - Apr 17
One thing is for certain McCarthy plays against Cardiff he will get caught with the ball if we play as if Bazunu was in goal. He was only pressed a few times last night and was caught once.We will have to play differently. I think Lumley should play McCarthy hasn't the foggiest idea where his near post is located.

TimSaint added 15:16 - Apr 17
Everyone would have taken a 3-0 win before the game, but the fact that we were 3-0 up after just over 30 mins made it a little bit of an anticlimax in the 2nd half. We all wanted (and expected) more goals to help our goal difference deficit v the Top 3, but despite a few chances, it wasn't to be and no Hat Trick for Che.

Jesus_02 added 11:18 - Apr 18
On the performances Preston keeper earned his crust. Lumly situation is weird. Thought he was a youngster that Martin didn't want to test under pressure without prep. But he is 29! McCarthy wont be with us next season. With Alex not really being tested the decision to not play Lumly seems to be a poor one.

We moved the ball out of defense so much more decisively than with Stephens. Midfield was so much more engaged.

You need to login in order to post your comments

Blogs 31 bloggers

Knees-up Mother Brown #22 by wessex_exile

Southampton Polls

About Us Contact Us Terms & Conditions Privacy Cookies Advertising
© FansNetwork 2024