Manager and Captain embrace after a job well done. Ward-Prowse was the only starting player from the last PL game to feature from the beginning
Intro and Team News
IBO Reporter - channonite
|The only starting player from the last PL game against Spurs was James Ward-Prowse and it showed, although there was enough about the team to comfortably beat a poor Huddersfield side, whose only ambition in the first half was to stop Saints scoring.
Back in goal was Angus Gunn, with a back four of Kevin Danso at right back (When is he going to get a game in the centre of defence?), Yoshida and Vestergaard in the middle and young Jake Vokins getting a chance at left back.
The midfield was James Ward-Prowse and Oriol Romeu, with Will Smallbone, making his first team debut, and Sofial Boufal out wide.
Will Smallbone capped his first ever senior appearance with a well taken goal
IBO Reporter : channonite
|Turning up at the ground, the Chapel was closed, but the rest of the ground seemed pretty full for an early round cup match. Later we found out that the crowd was over twenty thousand, which confirmed what we thought. There was a good positive vibe in the ground and although the team was much changed, they seemed very much up for it. Unfortunately Huddersfield were very much not "up for it". After about ten minutes it dawned on me that all we were going to see from the opposition was for them to simply stop Saints scoring. That appeared to be the sum total of their ambition.
Unfortunately, with the change in line-up came the illustration of why some of the players were not regular starters in the first team. There was a lot of pretty triangles being played and moving from side to side of the pitch. In fact, if it were not for James Ward-Prowse's sheer bloody mindedness there would not be much to write about. One run down the left, right on the touchline, was a demonstration of why he had been made captain for the day. He passed down the wing, but there was nobody moving to collect, so he simply accelerated past the defender, stepping off the pitch to do so and kept running. He slipped the ball to Che Adams, who shot straight at the keeper.
Meanwhile Vestergaard was doing his best to give Huddersfield some hope that they could actually score, by giving the ball away several times. Thankfully nothing came of these clangers.
Shane Long was doing his usual harrying job on the defenders and on one occasion almost nicked the ball from the keeper. The hurried clearance wasn't very far and Saints immediately put them under pressure. The ball fell to Smallbone, but the youngster had a rush of blood to the head and blazed his shot high into the Northam.
Then came the moment when VAR came into play. Just on the stroke of half-time a long ball to Smallbone saw him play a great ball through to Long, who advanced on the goal and slotted the ball, almost casually, past the advancing goalie. 1-0, or so we thought. There was a long, long wait for the VAR review and after what seemed an age, the crowd started to jeer. Eventually we were informed - NO GOAL - apparently Long was offside and it was still 0-0.
It gave us something to talk about in the break though. That and how absolutely abysmal Huddersfield were. And to think they were in the Premier League last season.
Practically from the restart, Saints took the lead in convincing fashion. Kevin Danso, making a rare first team appearance, this time at high wing-back, ran down the wing, shrugging off the attention of a defender. Reaching the byline and off-balance, he whipped in a cross which seemed to be going out and also hung in the air for an age, before dropping right onto Shane Long's head, who nodded it to the completely unmarked Will Smallbone. This time he made no mistake taking his time to swivel and lash the ball into the net. Now it WAS 1-0. A great way to score your first senior goal for the club.
Rather than try and finish the game off, Saints seemed to huff and puff again, while playing some nice football now and again. All game Boufal had been annoying me by continually over-reacting to anything he seemed to perceive as a sleight against him. When on song, there are few players to touch him and he is a pleasure to watch, but on days like today his play acting just succeeds in winding everybody up, including the referee.
On 70 minutes, Ralph decided to make changes, starting with Armstrong coming on for the clearly exhausted Smallbone, then replacing the also tiring Danso with Cédric and finally hooking off Boufal to be replaced with Obafemi.
The game had one last twist for us, when Cha Adams played a really cute ball from the centre circle to Jake Vokins racing down the left wing. The left wing-back made directly for goal unleashing a shot that may, or may not have had a slight deflection on it's way into the top corner of the goal, to round off a pretty perfect day for the two Saints debutants.
So, Saints were safely through to Round Four of the FACup and they had two of the clubs Academy graduates to thank for it.
Man of the Match
In spite of the eye-catching performances, topped off with goals, of Will Smallbone and Jake Vokins, I am giving the MoM to the captain for the day, James Ward-Prowse, who led by example and was everywhere, cajoling and encouraging the rest of the team.