|The games are coming thick and fast and just four days after the game against Everton, here we were with another away game, this time against Manchester United. I think it fair to say that there were very few Saints fans who were expecting anything from this game, as United are the form team in the Premier League at the moment, but that is not quite how it panned out. Southampton are nothing if not resiliant since the restart and they just don't give up. All the more impressive, as the way the games have unfolded have left the team probably unable to progress more than over take Everton for 11th at best.
Once again, Ralph stuck to the same starting line up from the Everton game. Again there was nothing for Højbjerg, other than to sit on the bench. The only other change was Vestergaard replacing Jankewitz amongst the substitutes.
Michael Obafemi converted JWP's corner and Jan Bednarek's assist, into an equalising goal, deep into 'Fergie Time'!!
IBO Reporter : channonite
|After all these high pressure games in a short space of time and using the same core of players, there were signs in this game that there is a fair bit of mental tiredness in the Saints team, as mistakes are creeping into the games now. It is probably just as well that they are physically fitter than they have been for years, as was demonstrated by the final 15-20 minutes of the game. This mental tiredness was illustrated early on, when Ward-Prowse was caught napping and easily dispossessed by Martial, who was then one-on-one with McCarthy. Luckily for JWP, McCarthy was equal to the task, coming out and spreading himself wide and saving with his left hand. Phew, what a start!
Saints though were not the only ones making errors, as almost immediately after, there was another error, this time from ManU. The ball came to de Gea and under pressure he played out to Pogba, who was far too easily dispossessed by Danny Ings, from there it went to Redmond, who played a delightful chip across the face of goal to Stuart Armstrong. The Scot took one touch and fair thumped his shot past de Gea. 0-1!
Saints were all too aware of the potency of the United forwards, but they were then given a warning, when Rashford hit the back of the net, after a well worked move, but luckily for the away team, the United player was clearly offside.
Not long after came a passage of play, where the initiative swung clearly to the home side. First of all, United played a series of passes around the Saints defence and Pogba pinged a great pass to Martial who then went down amongst a sea of defenders, but somehow found Rashford out wide to the left. The United No10 took the briefest of controlling touches before shooting past the wrong footed McCarthy for the equaliser. 1-1.
Things then got worse, very quickly. Within a couple of minutes United worked quickly forward on the left to Martial, who turned the unfortunate Walker-Peters inside out and sent a screamer past McCarthy. 2-1.
Ouch. Talk about deflating, but this Saints team are made of sterner stuff and they dug deep to stop the rot, with neither side managing to threaten the opposing keeper for the rest of the half, so the score remained 2-1 at halftime.
The second half continued in the same vein, with neither side able to get the upper hand and Ralph made his first change just after the 60 minute mark, replacing Adams with Shane Long, as although trying hard, Adams had not had much luck against the ManU defence.
There was then some wonderful interplay between Rashford and Martial, finishing with the French No9 playing it square for the onrushing Englishman, who looked certain to score, but in the blink of an eye, Bertrand appeared from nowhere and took the ball right off Rashford's foot sending it behind for a corner. Outstanding defending. Bertie was having a brilliant game.
Ralph then replaced Armstrong with Will Smallbone, which I thought was an odd substitution, but the youngster went on to prove me wrong, adding a bit more steel back into the game.
More tired thinking was on display as first Jack Stephens and then Jan Bednarek were left for dead by Martial, but fortunately he shot high and wide of the mark.
After that let-off Saints began to be in the ascendancy and there was an almost tangible feel that a goal was coming. It almost happened after some great play from the team saw Redmond sent a rasping shot goal-wards, only to see de Gea make a wonderful finger tip save.
With just three minutes of normal time remaining Ralph made another substitution with Oriol Romeu, who had been extremely lucky not to get sent off for a nasty challenge earlier in the game (and yes, it did go to VAR), replaced by Michael Obafemi. The manager was going for it.
This team just does not give up and once again this paid off. With Manchester United leading 2-1 going into the last few minutes and Sky having given their 'man of the match' award to Martial, mentioning his 'game winning' goal, Saints laid siege to the United goal. Walker-Peters and Williams, the United defender, had an accidental clash of heads, leaving the United youngster having to go off with a nasty looking head wound. The home side had already used their three tranches of substitutes, so had to play the remaining few minutes with ten men. Saints won a corner deep, deep into injury time, Ward-Prowse took it, Jan Bednarek at the near post flicked it on and there was Michael Obafemi lurking at the far post to stab the ball home! 2-2. Oooh, this was wonderful, doing to Manchester United what had been done to us so many times over the years. Fergietime. Great, isn't it!
That was virtually the last kick of the game and it felt like a victory, rather than a draw.
Wow! And indeed Wow! The manager has turned this team into a really good one. As someone else said recently, it is so much greater than the sum of it's parts. They may be mentally tired, but they just do not give up and keep going to the very end.
I am so proud of this team.
Man of the Match
For me, Ryan Bertrand gave a simply sumptuous display of defending and attacking. He was up and down the left touchline all game, linking up well with Nathan Redmond. And that goal saving interception from Rashford was something I had to watch several replays, before I could understand exactly what had happened. Amazing.