IBO Reporter : channonite
|With teams 14th and 15th in the Premier League table, you would expect a tight match, with neither side wanting to slip back into the relegation scrap below them. Yet, within the first few seconds, Burnley cut through the static Saints defence and Woods scuffed shot was destined for the far corner of the goal, until Forster managed to get down and push the shot behind for a corner. Fair warning from the away side.
Did Saints heed the early warning? Not really, but after just ten minutes Burnley burst forward again and Pieters out on the Burnley left tried to cut inside Walker-Peters and the pair were tussling and pulling each others shirts. All this was happening just inside the penalty area and although Pieters managed to pass the ball, both players fell in a heap, with the Burnley players appealing for a penalty. Referee Andre Marriner allowed the play to continue, only stopping to review the VAR on the pitch side monitor. He then turned and pointed straight to the spot. Penalty. Wood stepped up and made no mistake, sending it straight down the middle. 0-1, with less than a quarter of an hour played.
Burnley were looking as calm and composed as Saints were not and it was no real surprise when a long, raking pass from deep in the Burnley half found the head of Wood, who nodded it sideways for his strike partner, Vydra who sent a left footed, first time shot just inside the near post, out of Forster's reach, to make it 0-2 after less than half an hour.
Saints just did not look at the races and thoughts of other high scoring defeats started to come to mind. However, now the home side appeared to be stung into action and the reply only took a couple of minutes. A really nice bit of play around the edge of the Burnley penalty area saw Ward-Prowse find Ings, who, with a wonderful dummy, back-heeled to the onrushing Armstrong behind him, who, unmarked in the middle of the area, made no mistake, shooting beyond Pope to make the scoreline 1-2. Wonderful stuff.
There was more to come and Walcott was denied a simple tap in, when some wonderful work by Redmond saw him pause at the byline and then loft the ball towards Theo, only to see a defender just manage to get a touch on the ball to send it out of harms way.
Then, just before half-time came a wonderful virtuoso display from Danny Ings. The move started with a clearance from Forster, finding Walker-Peters wide on the edge of the pitch. Somehow he managed to keep it in and sent a long pass down the line to Redmond, who just flicked the ball forward to Ings. Still a long way from goal and leaving one defender standing and another sat on his backside, he sent a slide-rule shot along the ground into the far corner, with Pope nowhere. 2-2 and all square again.
I always think that the most damaging time to score is just before half-time. The opposition has no time to react and it changes the dynamics of the half-time talks for both teams.
Saints came out for the second half with their tails up and proceeded to get stuck into Burnley. There was more good interplay between the players in red, white and black, culminating in a shot from James Ward-Prowse, which hit the underside of the crossbar and came down on the line. Had it crossed the line? The Saints players certainly thought so, but Mr Marriner confirmed the ball had been dead centre on the line, but had not gone over. No goal. Replays showed something that I had missed in the excitement of the moment and that was when the ball bounced back into the air, Ings had headed it over Pope's head and only a last ditch bit of defending on the line from Tarkowski saw him head it away from what would have been a certain goal. You can't say that this was a dull match.
Saints were all over Burnley now, playing with confidence and pinning them back into and around their penalty area. After a prolonged passage of play, when Burnley players seemed unable to get near the ball, Armstrong shot low through a throng of players and after the slightest of deflections, it seemed destined for the bottom left of the goal, with Pope nowhere near it. Somehow the goalie managed to fly across the width of the goalmouth and just got the tip of a finger to it, pushing it wide for a corner. That is why he is the England keeper at the moment. Outstanding save.
On it went and you just couldn't take your eyes off the action. Burnley managed to get out of their half, but not for long as the home side were really pressing for the winner now. Burnley were dispossessed and Armstrong strode forward down the middle, threading the ball through to Walcott ahead of him. Theo was off like a shot, showing that he still has the pace that he became famous for. He found Ings ahead of him and Danny collected and turned in one movement, shooting at goal and there was that man Pope again, pulling off another outstanding save. However, the ball fell to Walcott, who was wide of the goal and being marked by two players. Showing some quick thinking, he lofted the ball to the other side of the area, where the waiting Nathan Redmond simply volleyed the ball home. 3-2 and Saints had come back from being two goals down, to lead for the first time in the match, with just over twenty minutes left.
It was Burnley's turn to go on the offensive now and very nearly had some reward, when yet another long ball forward found Vydra the wrong side of the defence, but Saints were saved when Forster came a long way out of his goal to punch the ball clear. Ward-Prowse and Walker-Peters then combined to play the home side back into trouble, a move which ended with Wood sending a shot just wide of the far post.
Then in rapid succession Ralph sent on Salisu instead of Armstrong, Adams for Ings and lastly Djenepo for Walcott.
Burnley were not finished, simply getting more frenetic in their attempts, one of which had Wood head straight at Forster, with Bednarek holding the Burnley No.9's shirt. Fortunately that was not spotted!
The next Burnley attack was broken up and Adams was sent away with only Pope to beat, but unfortunately he managed to shoot wide, denying what would have been an end of things for the away side. As it was, time rapidly ran out and Saints were worthy winners, after what had looked at one point, as though it was to have been yet another disappointing match.
If there were any remaining relegation nerves, then this result would have surely put them to bed. Next up is the away game at West Bromwich Albion, who are definitely in all sorts of trouble at the moment, although they have been playing well of late.
Man of the Match
Lots of candidates here. As always, James Ward-Prowse was outstanding in the midfield, as was Stuart Armstrong. Nathan Redmond had another excellent game, as did Theo Walcott, but for me, the undoubted star was Danny Ings, returning from injury and turning in a superb performance, topped off with a wonderful goal.