Saints V Crystal Palace The Verdict
Sunday, 29th Dec 2019 10:50
It was the last game of the decade for Saints, they hoped to go out with a bang, they almost did but it was still a good ending of the year after 7 points out of the last 9 see us clear of the relegation zone.
Saints went into this game with great hopes, but they struggled to get started and had to rely on VAR to keep the score level at half time, but the disallowed goal showed the defensive frailties still remain and need to be addressed, when Zaha pulled the ball back there were four defenders on our own six yard line and one Palace player on his own on the penalty spot and an easy pass for Zaha.
Danny Ings coming in for Obafemi was expected, Boufal for Armstrong was a surprise, Ralph Hasenhuttl opting for guile rather than the more direct Scot, in truth this didn't really pay off Boufal made some good runs but too often his trickery had little end product.
When the half time whistle blew the game was flat for Saints and so was the crowd.
The second half started badly for Saints and again they gifted a goal that organisation would have easily avoided, the offside trap from the crossed free kick was non existent and then Tomkins was given a free header from close range that he buried.
At this point it looked bad for Saints we were struggling to break down a Palace side who were resolute and the atmosphere was flat.
The game changing moment was the introduction of Djenepo, he had the trickery of Boufal but he was also a lot more direct and offered more pace, the balance of the team was a little awry though as he had come on for Adams, so effectively we had three wingers on, that was soon rectified as Boufal departed for Armstrong and after being gifted an equaliser when Ings benefited from a bad back pass and the final 20 minutes saw both the team and crowd up for it.
If we had played as we did in the final 20 minutes for even just half of the game we would have won it, at the end though most Saints supporters left the stadium in a happy mood and feeling that a draw was a fair result between two teams who had rolled their sleeves up and battled.
Both sides perhaps had cause for complaint, Palace's ruled out goal should really have been allowed and Saints will feel that the visitors should have gone down to 10 men for a series of challenges from serial offenders that at one point saw Hojbjerg's shirt being ripped from his back.
One thing should be noted, two months ago we would have lost this game, now we have the resilience and fight to come back from a goal down and when games aren't going our way.
But overall a good end to the year for a Saints side who have turned things round in the last two months and have pulled themselves free from the relegation zone.
Things are still not quite right, the defensive issues remain and need to be solved, but we have a lot to build on now and attacking wise we can score goals.
After the defeat to Leicester I would not have put much money on us being out of the bottom three come today, but we are and we have an achievable challenge ahead of us, we need to average a point a game between now and the end of the season and seeing as we have done more than that after what has been a disastrous first quarter of the season, we can if we remain focused match that in the second half of the campaign.
So many good things to be taken from the last few games and we can go forward with positivity.
Photo: Action Images
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