Saints v Crystal Palace
St.Mary's, Tuesday 3rd March 2015
> Cool finish from Mané
> Chelsea away next, no problem then . . . .
A goal, at last, and three valuable points to go with it. What's not to like about that?
Well, a few things actually. Let's start with that it wasn't the most enthralling match that you're ever likely to see, we lacked guile, creativity and, most importantly, confidence - unsurprisingly as we hadn't managed to score a goal at SMS since New Years Day. Ron may very well have encouraged the players to shoot whenever opportunity came knocking but that needs mental composure and an assured touch not often found in players who find themselves, for various reasons, under pressure.
A half hour of Nigel Adkin's psychological soothing might not go amiss with this bunch.
However we did manage to resist Palace's ever more frequent attacks and scrambled one in ourselves with seven minutes left on the clock, although studiers of entrails and those of a superstitious bent wouldn’t have been surprised as we'd never before lost to Palace in the Premier League.
If games were marked on, and points given for, possession then Saints would be world beaters. Winning the first half by 62% to 38% we tried to pick our way through the massed ranks that Crystal Palace presented. Would a cudgel, if we had one, have been more effective than the scalpel? But that wouldn't have been The Southampton Way. Pardew set his team up to do what others have done before - we've seen a lot of it recently - deny us space and time, organise yourself defensively with 4, occasionally 5, across the back and at least 2, maybe 4 when needed, just in front of them. No room for our front players to get in between them. And don't forget to waste time whenever possible. We also tried crosses but no luck there either. Palace took it all like a seasoned boxer, hoping to tire and frustrate us and, eventually, catch us on the, very fast, counter.
And that's pretty much what happened. We dominated the first half, but to no avail. Second half, Palace became more adventurous, Puncheon, Bolasie and Zaha, in particular. causing problems and getting close to scoring.
As The Beast never fails too tell us, it’s madness to continue doing the same thing and expect different results to occur, so on the hour Ron sent Tadic on for a heavy-legged Elia. Ten minutes later a surprised looking Pelle was subbed by Shane Long. But the clincher change was JWP on for an impressive but tiring Djuricic. Five minutes after coming on he (JWP) ran at the defence and shot, Speroni managed to block it but the ball spilled out to Sadio Mane who chipped it over the goalie. 1-0 to The Saints ....yeah! You just knew what would happen next. Ward-Prowse gave the ball away and Palace were off, haring down the pitch with it; fortunately we got away with that. Pardew then sent Ameobi on to try to regain parity but we, tenaciously and fortunately, hung on for the three points. Big cheers and sighs of relief all round - obviously except the bit where the boot-faced Palace fans were!
Bring on Chelski!
Best sight(s) of the evening; Vasco bringing the half time coffees, that and seeing Toby back in the match squad.
Worst aspect of the evening; traffic on the M27, from the East, pre-match was its usual grim self! Does anyone have a spare helicopter?
4th March 2015
22 Elia (Tadić 60')
15 Djuricic (Ward-Prowse 78')
19 Pellè (Long 70')
27 Delaney - Booked
18 McArthur - Booked (Ameobi 84')
Post-Game Interviews & Matchday Uncovered
A happy Ronald Koeman after the Crystal Palace victory
Mané on his goal and the team returning to winning ways
- Mané 83′
Crystal Palace 0
- Southampton 62%
- Crystal Palace 38%
- Southampton 23
- Crystal Palace 9
- Southampton 3
- Crystal Palace 3
- Southampton 10
- Crystal Palace 2
- Southampton 11
- Crystal Palace 10
Referee : Martin Atkinson
Attendance : 28,351