IBO Reporter : channonite
|In normal times the League Cup reports at this stage of the competition are brief in the extreme. Mostly owing to the same lack of interest in the early rounds shown by the fans, as evidenced by the frankly pathetic attendance figures seen in past years. But these are not normal times and this, in particular, was not a normal, run of the mill match.
Ralph put out an experimental team, sure, but it was still a bit of a surprise to see James Ward-Prowse named in the starting lineup. Is he going for back to back seasons of playing every minute in every match? Whatever the why's and wherefore's, at least the Newport fans could see that Saints were serious about the game.
The game kicked off in front of a crowd of just over seven thousand in the small stadium. It felt like a whole lot more and there was a great cup atmosphere, more like you associate with the third round of the FACup, where the surviving "small" clubs sometimes come up against Premier League opposition.
We didn't have to wait long for the first meaningful action, when Nathan Redmond crashed a shot against the bar from over 20 yards out. Armando Broja was hovering on the edge of the box and the young Chelsea player, starting for the first time in his year long loan, pounced and side-footed the ball past the keeper to make it 0-1 to Saints and only nine minutes gone.
Saints were looking very slick and dangerous and shortly after the goal the Welsh side were again put under pressure and Redmond hit his shot wide of the far post, when Tella was unmarked right in front of goal. It didn't really matter as the second goal came when Saints broke at pace and Elyounoussi, who was having a really good match, fed the ball through to Nathan Tella. The youngster raced forward and confidently slotted the ball the other side of the diving goalie to make it 0-2 to Saints in the 25th minute.
Redmond then had a chance to make it 0-3, but his curling shot was acrobatically tipped just wide of the far post by the Newport goalie, Townsend, who was the busiest player on the pitch.
The third goal came along just before halftime, when Kyle Walker-Peters was all on his own on the left and sent a curling shot goalwards, which somehow got under the body of Townsend at the near post, to make it Newport County 0-3 Southampton at the halfway point.
Virtually straight from the kick off Saints scored again. After good work from Ward-Prowse, Broja shot from a narrow angle close in and Townsend could only parry it out, where it fell kindly for Mohamed Elyounoussi to bundle the ball over the line to make it 0-4 to Saints.
The floodgates then opened with Elyounoussi scoring his second of the night and the teams fifth, with a seemingly effortless shot from right in front of goal to make it 0-5 to Saints after 55'.
Newport were in complete disarray now and just two minutes later Broja got his second of the night, when a slick move down the middle from Diallo, to Elyounoussi, to Broja, ended with the ball planted firmly in the back of the Newport goal to make it 0-6 to Saints.
Ralph now decided on some changes, replacing Tella with Obafemi and Broja with Shane Long. This didn't slow up the scoring rate initially, as Nathan Redmond finally got the goal he had been threatening all evening, when a cute through ball by Ward-Prowse found Redmond surrounded by players, but he swivelled and sent a thunderous shot into the back of the net, giving poor Townsend no chance, to make it 0-7 to Saints and there were still more than twenty minutes to go.
Then, on seventy minutes Ralph took off Ward-Prowse, probably with a mind to saving him for the league game against Newcastle away in just four days time. On in his place came Theo Walcott. The end result of the three substitutions was to seemingly blunt the Saints flowing, attacking football and they just didn't look anything like as dangerous. Having said that, Newport were a well beaten side by this point and offered nothing in the way of a threat. Being 7-0 down, they looked as though they couldn't wait for the final whistle.
This wasn't quite the end of the scoring though, as in time added on, Elyounoussi got his hat trick with his best goal of the night. Wide out on the right, he sent a rasping shot in, which the keeper had absolutely no chance of stopping to make it 0-8 to Saints, which also made this their biggest away win ever.
That most certainly was that and an amazing evening. Saints looked impressive all evening, with only the substitutions blunting the attack somewhat. Elyounoussi must have played himself into contention with that performance and Walker-Peters had a very good evening at left back, which was good news for Ralph in his previously problem position. In fact if this game showed the manager anything, it was that Saints now have options all over the pitch, something that we have not had for a long, long time.
Man of the Match
Little doubt in my mind, that on a night of excellent performances all over the park, the deserved Man of the Match goes to Mohamed Elyounoussi, who got a hat trick and looked every inch the dangerous, accomplished player we hoped he was when he was signed from FC Basel back in 2018. His spell on loan at Celtic seems to have done him no harm at all. The end result is that it seems almost like a new signing. Long may that continue.
Click on this link to see the goals on YouTube