|After the damp squib that was the game against Arsenal at St.Mary's I wasn't really expecting much from this game. Watford are the sort of team that we are rubbish against, big, physical and direct. Some of Watford's players did their best to help Saints in the run up to the game, with Andre Gray, Nathaniel Chalobah and Domingos Quina attending Gray's birthday party on the Friday, breaking the quarantine rules, so the club had to leave them out to the game.
Saints had their own problems, with Jack Stephens sending off in the last game and not available for three games, it left Ralph with a conundrum at the heart of the defence. As it was, he chose to go with Vestergaard to counter the expected 'route one' bombardment. The manager was also concerned that Stuart Armstrong needed a rest, so he brought in Will Smallbone to partner James Ward-Prowse and Oriol Romeu in midfield.
Other concerns were the goalkeeping position, but Hasenhüttl kept faith in McCarthy, while keeping the promising Kyle Walker-Peters at right back.
At the front, Shane Long was preferred to Obafemi to partner the in-form Danny Ings.
The bench was quite light on experience, but there were a couple for the future in Nathan Tella and Alexandre Jankewitz, who I am sure we will hear a lot more of.
Foster now knows that the last person he wants to clear the ball to is Danny Ings. Before the Watford goalie could react it was 0-2
IBO Reporter : channonite
|This was one of those rare occasions where Saints were wearing their white 3rd kit and very smart it looked too in the sunshine bathing Vicarage Road as the game kicked off.
Yet again, like the Norwich game, Southampton were being rather tentative, although I was not that surprised, bearing in mind the five changes since the last match. It was several minutes before either goalkeeper was troubled and it was the Watford keeper who was called into action following a nice passage of play, culminating in a shot from Shane Long, which Foster gratefully clutched to his chest in a routine save.
Watford were looking very limited and the first goal, when it came in the 16th minute was no real surprise. It was another confident move, in which the impressive Will Smallbone made an incisive forward pass to Danny Ings, the Saints No9 rifling a shot beyond the reach of Foster into the goal. Ings seemed to have at least five Watford players surrounding him, but such is Danny's level of confidence these days, that they couldn't get near him. 0-1.
As the time ticked by Saints were playing with more and more confidence and I made a note at the time which just said 'pie', which meant I was wrong about Vestergaard, who was not only dealing with Deeney, so that the Watford No9 was little threat, but he was playing his team out of defence with some good passes. Humble Pie indeed. In fact, just before the first drinks break in the June sunshine, Vestergaard played a great long pass along the ground, straight to the feet of Bertrand. The move continued with Romeu, who was also having a good game, sending a delightful chip into the box for James Ward-Prowse to send a shot just over the bar. This is a team playing with not a little confidence.
The rest of the first half was a bit inconclusive, with Watford offering nothing very much for McCarthy to be worried about. He was very much reduced to the role of interested observer.
So, halftime came, with the score still 0-1 and the sunshine had disappeared.
The second half began, as the first ended, with Saints in control, but there was signs emerging that Watford were starting to have a bit more luck in midfield. Ralph's response to this was to replace Smallbone with Stuart Armstrong and this had an immediate effect, but the next goal had nothing to do with this.
Bednarek took a Saints free kick from just inside the Watford half, but the delivery was too long and it sailed all the way through to Foster. Under no pressure at all, he threw the ball out, but it was intercepted by Danny Ings and almost before Foster could react, Ings had rifled the ball past the keeper into the net. Ooops! Still, McCarthy will know how Foster felt, after the Saints keepers own clanger in the Arsenal home match. 0-2.
There then followed a messy part of the match, with Watford making three substitutions and Ralph replacing Shane Long with Ché Adams.
The Watford subs seemed to inject new life into the Hornets and they put the away side under quite a bit of pressure, during which Kyle Walker-Peters was lucky not to concede a penalty for holding a Watford player, which would have been a harsh reward for what was otherwise a good game at right back.
The next Watford raid down the Saints right, saw the ball being whipped in and Bednarek, trying to keep the ball away from Welbeck, could only deflect the shot into his own net. An unfortunate own goal by the Polish defender. 1-2.
The weather had changed dramatically from the bright sunshine of earlier to driving rain now and when Romeu tried to play in Adams, Ché was unceremoniously scythed down by Dawson just inside the D. Free Kick. Up stepped James Ward-Prowse with the rain even heavier now and curled a perfect shot above the defensive wall and into the left top corner, with Foster standing at the other end of the goalmouth. 1-3. Game Over.
There was still time for more drama, when in the now sunny again Vicarage Road, a Bednarek header was collected by Adams, who beat his man and bore down on goal, with just the goalkeeper to beat. I was up on my feet, willing him on. He went to shoot through the legs of the onrushing Foster, but it seemed to clip a heel on the way through and that was just enough to send it wide. A head in hands moment.
Almost immediately afterwards, Redmond found himself free and sent a curling shot wide of Foster, only to see it hit the post and bounce away. That turned out to be the last action of a game that didn't see Watford achieve a single shot on target.
|Good grief, Saints win again on the road. The away record for the season is now P16, W8, D2, L6. Yes, that's right, they have a win rate of 50%. A smidgen better than their home record. The big mystery for me is, how can this team be so good away from home and so rubbish at St.Mary's?? One of the mysteries of the modern world.
I don't think there is another striker to touch Danny Ings at the moment. The bloke is on fire and he is playing almost permanently with a great big grin on his face - except when he is bearing down on goal. His second today was a great example of how utterly single minded and ruthless he is. Foster kicked out from his goalline, unfortunately for him it went straight to Ings, who trapped the ball and bore down on the goal. Almost before you could register what had happened, the ball was nestling in the back of the net and Forster was looking as mortified as McCarthy did against Arsenal on Thursday.
Personally, I was gutted for Ché Adams, as I mentioned in the main report that he looked as though he was about to score his first Premier League goal near the end of the match and I was up out of my seat, only to see Foster get the slightest touch on it, as Adams fired it between the keepers legs and it just went wide of the far post. That guy really, really needs to get a goal.
Watford didn't manage a single shot on goal for the entire match, but as a contrast, next up for Saints is Manchester City at St.Mary's, what could possibly go wrong?!