|Well, in simple terms that was a loss snatched from the jaws of victory. Leading 2-0 at halftime and well worth the lead, Wolves changed their formation after the break and ran rampant, scoring three goals without reply. Ralph just didn't react until the equalising penalty and only then bringing on two more forwards, which wasn't the issue. JWP and Højbjerg being overrun in midfield was. That's where the game was won and lost, so that was down to you Ralph.
Anyway, team news. Same as last week. The only player on the injured list now is Valery, who it seems has Glandular Fever, so we are unlikely to see a fully functioning Yan for some time yet, as I know from personal experience how debilitating that virus is.
Jan Bednarek scored a rare goal to open the scoring in the 15th minute
IBO Reporter : channonite
So, was it as awful as it felt at the time? Probably not. People can moan about individual players and I have seen plenty of that, but the fact remains that Saints were well on top at half time and could have been leading by more than the two goals from Jan Bednarek and Shane Long.
In the writers humble opinion (and of the fans either side of me) where Saints went wrong, was when Wolves changed formation for the second half and suddenly our midfield were overrun and the home side were very much on the back foot. Still 2-0 up, Ralph did nothing to change the personnel, until the 71st minute and then it was to bring two forwards on, rather than Romeu. Ah well, we live and learn.
We all gathered in the sunshine at St.Mary's in a fairly optimistic frame of mind after the misery of the last few months/years. After all, we were up to the dizzy heights of 12th in the Premier League and even if we lost (Ha-ha) there was no chance we would fall into the bottom three.
The early stages of the game were fairly frenetic, as both teams were pressing, pressing, pressing. Then after one bout of frantic passing, with neither side able to keep hold of the ball, Saints won a free kick over on the Itchen side. All the players seemed to be jostling around the middle/near post, leaving Jan Bednarek standing all on his own at the far post. The ball was whipped in and landed at the Poles feet, leaving him a simple side-foot into the net. 1-0.
Saints began to have more possession and then Redmond went on a marauding run down the left wing to the byline, crossing to meet an onrushing Cédric, whose diving header, went straight into Patrício's grateful hands.
The chances were coming. At both ends. After some impressive work from Traoré and Neto, the latter sent in a teasing cross for Jiménez to run onto, but the No.9 could only poke it harmlessly wide of the near post.
Then, after the impressive Armstrong and Cédric had combined down the right, the little Portuguese sent in a cross like a shot from a gun. Ings and Long were jostling with the Wolves defenders, but it was Shane who got his head to it and sent a glancing header past Patrício. 2-0 and still ten minutes from half time.
The crowd were loving it, well all except the away fans of course. Halftime came without too many more dramas and during the break there was loads of excited chatter on the terraces and consulting mobile phones to see what this meant to the League table.
That was as good as it got. Wolves came out early and lined up patiently. From kickoff it was clear that they had changed formation, with Traoré occupying a more central role and the defence had switched to three at the back. Almost instantly Saints were under real pressure, with the midfield overwhelmed. Mistakes were coming, as they were completely on the back foot now.
Well, not completely on the back foot, as Redmond broke away and sent a teasing cross in, which Shane Long could only send just wide of the post.
While we were busy laughing at Patrício, who almost got himself into a tangle under pressure from Ings, Wolves broke up the right wing and Traoré whipped in for Neto to control, turn and fire past McCarthy. 2-1. There was some talk of offside and it went to VAR, which only confirmed the goal.
Wolves now stepped up a gear and their fans were up for it as well. Saints were really struggling to even get hold of the ball now. Once again that man Traoré caused havoc, waltzing through the midfield, finding Neto, who tried to thread a pass through to Jiménez, but he was unceremoniously upended in the penalty area by a combination of Stephens and Cédric. Wolves players wanted a penalty, but the referee pointed for a corner. It went to VAR and after an age it was adjudged that Stephens had missed the ball and brought the player down. Penalty.
Jiménez stepped up and sent McCarthy the wrong way. 2-2. It had taken Wolves just ten minutes to go from 2-0 down to 2-2. And there was more than 25 minutes left.
Even so, Saints were still getting chances and Redmond made one for himself out of almost nothing, firing a shot from about 25 yards out, which just skimmed the top of the crossbar.
Hasenhüttl decided to make a double substitution, but had to wait for a break in the play. Eventually Adams came on for Long and Djenepo for Armstrong. Which, although a brave move, didn't address the fact that we were losing the midfield battle and allowing pressure onto the defence.
Refusing to give in, Saints were throwing everything forward and eventually they came unstuck. Following an attack on the Wolves goal, a defender lumped the ball upfield and that man Traoré again broke up the wing, held the ball up and squared it to Jiménez, who unerringly found the bottom right corner. For the third time VAR was involved, this time for a possible hand-ball, but after review the goal stood. 2-3.
The gloom that descended on the Saints fans was completed by the joy of the Wolves fans and not even 5 minutes of time added could help Saints grab an equaliser. The final whistle when it came was almost a relief.
So, a game of two halves. A 2-0 lead chucked away needlessly. Unlike earlier in the season, I am not going to get too despondent and some of the criticism aimed at Jack Stephens in particular for giving away the penalty was out of order, but the game should be taken as a learning experience for Ralph Hasenhüttl in particular. Once again he got the substitutions wrong and too late. The next game comes along on Tuesday when Saints are away to Crystal Palace. We need to see the club pick itself up and not dwell on this result.