|Back when Sir Alex ruled Old Trafford with a rod of iron you really would not want to play them the week after they’d lost at home to the likes of Crystal Palace. Times have changed though and I suspect that the current United set up lacks the resilience and endeavour of those earlier teams.
Had we been able to send out the side that won at Brighton I’d have fancied Saints chances but the loss of both Redmond and Djenepo in midweek rather blunted our attacking options. For Saints to beat United Ings and Adams will both need to play extraordinarily well. Boufal’s recent cameos should also earn him a start.
|Saints made just 2 changes from the starters at the Amex – Boufal in for Redmond and Cedric for Valery. The line-up suggested 4-2-2-2 with Cedric, Bednarek, Vestergaard and Danso at the back with Hojbjerg/Romeu, Ward Prowse/Boufal and Adams/Ings the pairs further up the park. Dan N’Jundalu was on the Saints bench.
United made 3 changes – Young and Pereira for the injured Shaw and Martial and Mata for Lingaard who was benched. I listened to Solent in the car driving back from dropping Drew at the Dialysis Clinic and there was much talk that Danso had been kept at left back to counter the pace of James. However, it looked like Pereira would play on United’s right leaving Cedric to deal with the pacey Welshman. Wan Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire joined Young in the back line with Pogba and McTominay sitting in front. Rashford led United’s line with Mata linking play as the “number 10”.
Mike Dean was the ref on the park with Michael Oliver keeping an eye on him via VAR.
Oriol Romeu hooking the ball away from Rashford, had a superb game in Saints midfield
IBO Reporter - Spot51
|BT’s match pundit was Martin Keown. United wore black and the game began with Saints attacking through Romeu. We knocked it about nicely but Young was able to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick. United had obviously watched our pressing at Brighton as they rarely played out from the back: De Gea almost always kicked the ball long to counter-act this threat.
United’s first attack was seen off by Vestergaard before, on 4 minutes, both Cedric and Rashford were down in a heap requiring treatment. Saints next attack broke down but Danso recovered the ball enabling Adams to pressure Lindelof. De Gea rushed to the defender’s aid.
Pogba’s first forward run saw him fouled. Saints then broke upfield where Adams fed Boufal who rounded a defender before firing a shot just by the far post. A minute later, with Ings’ cross not cleared Boufal attempted another shot but this time his volley flew parallel with the goal and was cleared.
Saints lost the ball allowing Mata to set up Pereira but Gunn held his shot. A minute later, Saints keeper was left grasping at air when James collected the ball from McTominay, stepped past Cédric and fired a superb shot into the top corner: 10m gone and United 1 up!
Højbjerg was soon trying to replicate James’ rocket up the other end but his effort went horribly wide. Then Mata gave James another chance but this time the Welshman scuffed his shot and Gunn saved comfortably.
On 15m Pogba’s pass had Vestergaard backtracking and when the big Norwegian fell it seemed Rashford was in. He was stopped by Mike Dean blowing up for him controlling the ball with his hand. Boufal looked enthusiastic but his forward pass failed to find PEH then, when he lost the ball to Rashford, he fouled the United player trying to win it back.
United now had the upper hand and Wan Bissaka was twice involved. First Mata played him in but his cross was knocked away. McTominay recycled the ball and the right back volleyed his pass over as the lino raised his flag.
On 20m Danso was carded for an innocuous tackle on Pereira and with United seeking to extend their lead, Gunn was obliged to punch away another James effort. PEH tidied up the resulting short corner.
With De Gea still kicking everything long, Gunn tried it himself. As Adams rose to head the ball, he was wrestled off it by Maguire and the ref let it go. United broke forward and only an intervention by JWP putting the ball out for a corner saved Saints. The corner went long but, played back in, Rashford was caught offside.
On 29m Saints won a throw on the left and a prodigious effort from Danso forced De Gea to punch away. As JWP tried to head the bouncing ball, Young’s boot almost took his head from his shoulders yet Mr Dean found it in his heart to give United the free kick.
Saints were digging their way back into the game and, on 31m, JWP got down the right but his cross took a kind deflection right into De Gea’s arms. A minute later we gave the ball away again allowing Mata to shoot – but miss. The next period of Saints possession gave Ings the chance to shoot from range but his effort bobbled wide.
We were getting plenty of the ball now but failed to create anything until Ings set up Boufal. The Moroccan got his shot away but it was bravely blocked by McTominay.
On 39m Ings was sent through with just Lindelof to beat. His touch was far too heavy allowing the defender to shepherd the ball safely to De Gea. Surprisingly Maguire was carded for another foul on Adams and then Saints continued to press forward. A promising move ended with Cédric's horrible cross floating behind.
Next it was Adams whose attempt to cross sailed over the bar but Saints spent the 2 added minutes in United’s half. James got back to block a JWP shot and it was half-time.: 0-1 to a “worldy” but still in it.
Half time on BT saw a load of old bores talking bollocks when they’d have done better to show Big Lawrie & Danny Wallace on the pitch.
Although our 4-2-2-2 often looked like 4-4-2 in the first half, after the break we got glimpses of how Ralph’s favoured formation can work. The half began with a United free kick which Young landed right into the arms of Gunn.
Cédric got beyond JWP on 49m and this time his cross was decent and Lindelof did well to head it away. Then Rashford got the better of Vestergaard but from near our post he put the ball out: Mike Dean awarded a United corner. Something about leopards and spots!
Saints were definitely defending better, so much so that Bednarek in particular was getting plaudits from Martin Keown. At the other end JWP and Boufal were becoming more influential. On 55m they worked an opening but his wild lash at the ball sent it wide.
On 57m Boufal played the ball off Lindelof for a corner on our left. At the near post Ings rose to meet JWP’s cross forcing a reaction save from De Gea. The ball dropped towards Danso who controlled the ball and chipped it back in. Vestergaard got well above Lindelof and thumped his header past De Gea: 1-1 and the the Great Dane’s first Saints goal.
The goal lifted our team and soon after the restart Ings raced across the pitch to halt Wan Bissaka with a crunching tackle. The hapless Adams was replaced on 61m by Shane Long who was built for the high-pressing game.
Boufal beat 2 defenders on the right and won a corner off Young. JWP’s kick found the Moroccan but McTominay made another good block to stop his shot. The home crowd were singing about the forthcoming Pompey clash as Long raced by Lindelof but De Gea rose to catch his cross.
Pogba had been quiet but a great ball got Rashford a shooting chance but Vestergaard’s block and PEH’s clearance deflected the danger. Saints were now looking the more likely to score another and on 66m Romeu found PEH who shot wide. Then Cédric went past Young, but hit his cross too long.
On 68m United withdrew Mata and Pereira sending on Matic and Lingard. It was Matic’s first action of the season and his rustiness was obvious when his first effort sailed horribly high & wide. Then on 71m Saints sent on Armstrong for Boufal but moments later the nature of the game changed dramatically.
McTominay broke down United’s right but was scythed down by Danso. It was obviously a second yellow for the young Austrian, so Saints were obliged to finish the match with 10 men. United were immediately buoyed and, with Pogba playing further forward, he soon created another scoring opportunity for James. Gunn did well to save this one.
James cocked up his next 2 opportunities but Saints were obliged to replace Ings with Yoshida to shore up the defence. We continued to keep United at bay so United replaced McTominay with Mason Greenwood on 82m.
Gunn saved from Rashford and a Bednarek block thwarted Lingard but then Rashford went over in the box. Saints hearts were in mouths but Mike Dean waved away the penalty claims and Michael Oliver, on VAR duty, backed him up. Nice work Gents!
United continued to attack. On 87m Lingard shot wide but a minute later young Greenwood let go from distance and Gunn made a decent save. Then Young tried his luck but his effort curled past the far post. Then Bednarek headed behind and Saints cleared Young’s corner.
Saints had survived the 90 minutes – just 4 more added to go. Keown announced his MoM was Vestergaard (with Bednarek a close second). Despite running the clock down, Saints still needed to defend their point. James skinned Cedric with frightening ease - but then sliced his shot well wide.
Cédric needed treatment and when Young began whining about time, Mike Dean showed him a yellow card. LOL! Then James fouled PEH but the free kick was just hacked upfield. Now in the 95m, Matic was fouled by Armstrong and he too was booked.
The last action saw Young curl another cross into our box and, not for the first time, Gunn clutched the ball to his chest. And that was that. 1-1 but until Danso got his red card we looked capable of winning this one. Saints and their manager, however, seemed happy enough to hang on to the point earned by Vestergaard’s header.