Saints v Newcastle
St.Mary's, Saturday 13th September 2014
My first league game of the new season was a fixture I missed last spring. When Saints were sticking 4 past Newcastle we were in the wilds of Powys. I was delighted, therefore, that the new boys put on a repeat performance for my benefit.
It was a pleasant day. The journey over was good. The Waverley sailed past Cowes - always a fine sight to see the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer. Outside the ground I located a bloke collecting for Franny and made a donation. Inside I met Steg, Baz, Paddy and Vasco. The gang was all there.
With Sadio Mane held up on the Dark Continent, the only new starter was Toby alongside Fonte. Jack Cork had obviously impressed at West Ham as he took a midfield berth alongside Davis and Morgan. Saints lined up with a front 3 of Long and Tadic either side of Pelle. Newcastle looked to be playing 4-1-4-1 with Anita the sitting midfielder and Riviere the lone striker.
Saints might have been 1 up in the 1st minute. A casual back-pass forced Krul to sprint from his goal. His hurried clearance hit the onrushing Long and bounced just wide of the post. Long looked lively on the right, his next contribution was a peach of a cross towards the back stick which was cleared for a corner.
Saints were pressing and Newcastle looked increasingly flustered. The possession stats suggest Newcastle saw most of the ball but the bulk of this was shifting the ball among their defenders, looking for an out ball. Long continued to chase everything and another 1-on-1 with Krul saw him flattened in the box. Chris Foy must have been the only one in the stadium who didn’t think that was a penalty!
Justice was served a minute later. Tadic found Bertrand on the left. The full-back’s chipped cross was met by Pelle’s powerful header. It sailed past Krul. 1-0.
Saints continued to dominate and on 8 minutes went route-one. Forster’s long clearance was headed on by Long and Pelle’s angled volley brought a diving save from Krul.
At the back Toby was looking the real-deal. His defending was assured and on 12 minutes he demonstrated his eye for a killer pass. A sweet chip over midfield saw Tadic sprinting into space and drawing another save from Krul.
Newcastle gradually worked their way into the game. They have some very mobile players and really ought not to be propping up the league. I guess it is down to lack of confidence. Losing becomes a habit that is hard to break. Despite all their efforts to attack, Saints kept forcing them backwards.
On 18 minutes the lead doubled. A long forward pass was met by Williamson. Instead of clearing the ball, his header looped sideways towards Pelle. The striker was clearly aiming to volley the ball goalwards but managed to slice it into the path of Tadic. The Serb controlled it and fed a great pass back to Pelle who had a tap in. 2-0.
Davis, Cork and Schneiderlin were generally in charge of midfield but as the half progressed Newcastle began to get further forward. Initially Forster’s involvement was limited to fielding crosses. On 25 minutes they finally drew a save from the big man when Haidara crossed from the left. Sissoko struck a firm shot which the keeper blocked away. The ball came back to Sissoko but his wild swing didn’t connect and Saints were able to clear.
Long continued to get down the right and knock crosses into the box. It seemed he may have been cut when felled by Krul as he was obliged to leave the field briefly for treatment. This part of the game lost a bit of shape and was punctuated by niggley refereeing decisions.
As the half drew to a close Newcastle got further upfield. Haidara and Cabella mounted attacks down the left flank resulting in a series of corner kicks. None caused serious trouble and as Saints broke away Colback hacked his man down, earning the first yellow card. 2 minutes injury time came and went. HT 2-0.
The stadium welcomed Francis Benali at half time. Franny had completed his 1000 mile run for Cancer Research, calling at every Premier League ground in just 21 days. It was an emotional moment and a fitting tribute to a Saint’s legend.
Long didn’t appear for the 2nd half. Saints brought on Big Victor. Newcastle replaced Anita with Tiote. The big Ivorian sat even deeper, taking up a position between Newcastle’s centre backs. Released from his defensive responsibilities, Jack Cork took up a position close to Tiote which often saw him the most advanced Southampton player early in the half.
Saints continued to pass the ball crisply and soon worked the ball to Tadic who cut in and shot, drawing another save from Krul. On 53 minutes even Big Vic found himself upfield and his angled shot was also saved - but Krul was undone in Saints next attack.
Davis prodded the ball forward. A deflection took the ball towards Williamson but the big defender looked like he was wading in treacle. Jack Cork nimbly intercepted, rounded Krul and tucked the ball home. 3-0.
I’m not alone in being surprised by the possession stats but the truth is Southampton did so much more with the ball when they had it. On the hour a glorious sweeping move saw Tadic drive in a firm, low cross that Krul bravely claimed at the feet of Pelle.
On 66 minutes JWP replaced Tadic and took the Serb’s place on the left. Saints continued to play lovely possession football and you got the impression Newcastle were eager just to be on their coach going home. They replaced Cabella with Perez on 69 minutes.
On 72, Davis put in a teasing cross forcing a corner which Krul claimed. Newcastle then created their best chance. They had plenty of men forward and at last created a half-chance for Riviere. The striker slid in but his shot was going wide. Colback might also have tucked it in but he too fell over and missed the ball. This was greeted by chants of “We’re shit and we know we are!” from the travelling fans. Poor old Pards!
With 10 minutes left Newcastle again won successive corners but Fraser finally fielded a weak shot. Saints then attacked with JWP seeing plenty of the ball. Big Vic set him up to fire just over. Schneiderlin then brought down his man giving Newcastle a free-kick. The ball deflected away for another corner.
With time ebbing away, the tireless Davis set up another attack but his cross was overhit. Both sides made late substitutions, Newcastle replaced Sissoko with Sammy Ameobi and Saints gave a late debut to their giant defender Florin Gardos, withdrawing Jack after another good performance. For the 3 minutes added time, Toby moved into midfield and was involved in the build up to Saints’ sensational final goal.
With seconds remaining, the ball was worked from right to left. A lovely flick from Pelle helped the ball on to Schneiderlin on the left corner of the box. With defenders standing off him he moved the ball forward before unleashing a beautiful curled shot into the opposite corner. Great strike and 4-0!
We will learn over the coming weeks whether Saints really are that good. On Saturday Newcastle were certainly poor and they now sit bottom of the league. Saints, on the other hand, rose to 4th. Interestingly, the 6 clubs below them comprise both Manchester clubs, both Liverpool clubs and both North London clubs. I guess that may not last for long but, in mid-September, we look a damn sight better off than the doom-mongers were predicting all summer!
Come on you Red and White Machine!!!
15th September 2014
18 Cork (Gardos 89')
07 Long (Wanyama 45')
11 Tadić (Ward-Prowse 67')
08 Anita (Tioté 45' - Booked)
07 Sissoko (Ameobi 89')
14 Colback - Booked
20 Cabella (Pérez Gutiérrez 69')
17 Pérez Gutiérrez
Ronald Koeman - Newcastle post-game interview
Graziano Pellè talks about his brace of goals
- Pellè 6′, 19′
- Cork 54′
- Schneiderlin 90′
- Southampton 50%
- Newcastle United 50%
- Southampton 10
- Newcastle United 9
- Southampton 7
- Newcastle United 4
- Southampton 5
- Newcastle United 5
- Southampton 16
- Newcastle United 7
Referee: Chris Foy