|Another game, another goal from Danny Ings, another defeat grabbed from the jaws of victory. FFS Saints! Newcastle were awful, but we gave them the veneer of class by our own seemingly contageous incompetence. Cédric was woeful, McCarthy not even close to his best, Redmond was once again a headless chicken, Hasenhüttl's substitutions made little sense. So it goes on and on.
The team selection was the exact same starting line-up as for the Norwich home game on Wednesday. No complaints there, as they had looked decent against a team that was at least as good as Newcastle. Boufal was again on the bench, dodgy toe, or not.
Saints scored first just after half time, when Danny Ings fired in his 9th Premier League goal of the season
IBO Reporter : channonite
|Well that was a game that Saints could and indeed should have won. That we didn't was down to several things, but mainly the inability to convert chances and the inability to defend under pressure. It is really disappointing to be once again pointing out what Ralph is probably painfully aware of. The same old problems re-emerging after the back to back home wins.
To begin with it looked like a continuation of the Norwich game, with Saints pressing high and putting the home side under pressure. Just after the half hour mark Redmond latched onto a lazy backpass, running onto a one on one with the Newcastle keeper, Dubravka. He was under a bit of pressure from a recovering defender, but he rushed his shot, ending up shooting straight at Dubravka, the shot hitting his legs and ballooning over the crossbar. I did find myself wondering if Ings would have buried that one, but that has always been Redmond's weakness, decision making.
A short time later we saw the better side of Redmond, where he doesn't have to think too much. From a Ward-Prowse corner the ball hit a defender, who probably was as surprised as anyone that the ball hit him. It flew out to a totally unmarked Redmond, who thumped a shot goal bound, but he was foiled by Dubravka, who instinctively palmed the ball away, as far as Bednarek, who could only sky his shot harmlessly.
We reached halftime scoreless, but Saints were well on top and just not able to convert that into anything meaningful.
The second half was barely five minutes old when a marvellous bit of opportunism and timing let in Ings for the games opening goal. It all came from a long pass made by Stephens out on the right touchline deep in the Saints half. It bounced between two Newcastle defenders and Ings, timing his run to perfection, beat them both to the ball and with just two touches thumped the ball past Dubravka. Clinical finish and 0-1. That was Ings 9th Premier League goal of the season and it's not even Christmas yet.
Steve Bruce reacted quickly to this setback, replacing club record signing, Joelinton with Andy Carroll. This was an indication that there was to be a change of tactics and it was going to get messy.
Shortly after, Long had the ball and advancing on the goal, but was surrounded by three Newcastle defenders, in spite of this he managed to find the totally unmarked Cédric on the right, who hammered a first time shot, right at Dubravka, who once again could only palm the shot away, but a defender was able to deal with the danger.
Newcastle then won a free kick after Cédric was penalised for a high challenge and Shelvey took the kick towards the lurking Carroll. Long managed to get to the ball first and headed it away. Carroll reacted the quickest and picked up the ball, crossing it for the unmarked Shelvey to rise above everybody and head into the net. 1-1. Bugger.
You just knew what was coming next. Long ball after long ball. Hasenhüttl's response was to send on Boufal and his injured toe for Djenepo.
Yet Saints had a sustained period of pressure, culminating in one of those "how did they NOT score?" moments. Ward-Prowse took another corner and found Shane Long to head goalwards, with the goalkeeper nowhere. Bertrand, who was rushing in to the back post, managed to get underneath the ball and head over from no more than two yards out, although he ended up in the net. Quite some feat! The ironic thing was that there was no need for Bertie to do anything, as the ball was heading inside the back post anyway. A head in hands moment.
Saints were creating chance after chance, the next being Cédric, Ings and Long combining, with the Irishman just failing to connect.
You just knew that we would regret all this missed chances and so it came to pass. Newcastle won a corner, taken by Shelvey, which McCarthy punched clear. As we have seen so many times before, Saints backed into the area, as various Newcastle players worked the ball around, until Longstaff, who had only just come on, fired in a shot from all of 30 yards out. McCarthy didn't either catch it, or punch it away, but sort of fell and the ball was loose. the only Saints player to react was Bednarek, the only trouble was that no fewer than five Newcastle players also reacted. Inevitably one of them, Fernández got there first and tapped the ball into the net. 2-1.
That destroyed Saints and they duly lost a match that should have been won. It has to be said that the second Newcastle goal was an avoidable calamity. McCarthy should have either caught the ball or punched it clear, somehow he did neither, but even so, the failure of all bar one Saints player to react was just poor defending.
Onwards to St.Mary's next Saturday for Saints v West Ham. Yet another 'must win' game.