IBO Reporter : channonite
|This is a game that I listened to, while having a family BBQ, but then turned it off in disgust, when Newcastle seemed to have scored the winning goal in injury time. Imagine my surprise when I heard later that Saints had equalised even deeper into the time added on. To lose that game would have been a flipping injustice, so well done to the team for just not giving up.
Right from the beginning, the two wing backs of Livramento on the right and Walker-Peters on the left were linking up very effectively with Elyounoussi and Djenepo respectively. The chances were coming.
There was one wonderful passage of play which perfectly illustrated this. Walker-Peters went charging up the left, with Djenepo waiting to take it beyond the last player and cut in. Unfortunately, KWP was closed down, but Adams offered himself as an option and he quickly moved the ball on to Elyounoussi, who in turn rapidly pushed the ball through for Livramento who was in behind the defence. It took a lucky deflection, which only helped Saints right wing back, who in turn found an unmarked Djenepo right in front of goal, no more than six feet from the line. Somehow - somehow the ball, instead of nestling into the back of the net, was sent skywards in the manner of a SpaceX rocket. Head in hands moment.
The cries of despair from Radio Solent commentator, Adam Blackmore were to be repeated more than once during this game, but there was a consolation in the boos that rang out from the home supporters around the ground, such was the ease with which Saints carved through a statuesque defence...
Just minutes later Elyounoussi played into Adam Armstrong, who sent the proverbial slide-rule pass into Djenepo. The Malian was once again in a wonderful position. In the space of ten seconds he had two bites of the cherry and contrived to fail with both. Adam Blackmore's commentary had by now occupied more of my attention then the match itself, as his levels of frustration rose commenting on the latest miss - ".. who still can't shoot and score. Oh my goodness me!"
This, apart from the finishing, was impressive stuff from Saints. A short time later Ché Adams, who was proving a real thorn in the side of the defenders, played in Elyounoussi who had popped up on the left, to have a shot at goal, but it just went agonisingly wide.
Time and again Walker-Peters was charging down the left, causing increasing levels of panic in the defence. On one of his raids he was hacked down just outside the box. The ref awarded a free kick, which was sent into the area by Ward-Prowse and a free for all followed, the only constant being that it was always a Saints player on the ball. Unfortunately nothing came of it in the end.
With all this one way traffic came a reminder for Saints to concentrate, as just before half time Newcastle broke and won a corner. When the ball came in McCarthy made an acrobatic stop from Wilson to keep the score goalless.
The end of the first half came, without any score, which was a mystery, considering Saints chances should have seen them at least two up. As always with Saints would this cost us, particularly with our hitherto appalling second half record in matches over the last few months?
The second half started where Saints had left off - very much on the front foot and it wasn't long before the first chance came, ending with Djenepo sending in a powerful curling shot, which did not quite curl in enough, going fractionally wide of the far post. A much better effort.
Newcastle were looking much more effective now and the large crowd were getting behind their team now. The games first goal on 55' was a flowing move from Newcastle's defence, which was taken down the right wing and a perfect cross was sent in, finding the diving Callum Wilson to head beyond McCarthy to make it 1-0. As they say, the crowd went wild.
How on earth were Saints behind in this game? Ralph's response was to take off Djenepo and send on Redmond. On the face of it, this did not sound like a good move, but at least the manager was using his substitutes a bit earlier than normal.
Redmond did make a difference however and his direct running had Newcastle back-pedalling once more. Adams had been getting a fair amount of sly fouling from the defenders and Ralph then decided to give him a rest from this abuse and send on the impressively large figure of Armando Broja in his place.
With a slight tweaking of the formation the desired outcome happened fairly quickly. Redmond came barrelling down the left wing and sent a dangerous cross in, which was met by the quickly advancing Elyounoussi. His shot was parried out by Woodman, but only as far as the Saints winger, whose momentum was enough to bundle the ball over the line for the equaliser. 1-1. It was the very least that Saints deserved.
The tiring Romeu, who had run himself into the ground, was then substituted by Diallo, who was immediately in action.
As the clocked ticked down the final seconds of normal time there was a howl from the Newcastle supporters, when Salisu appeared to trip Saint-Maximin in the box, but replays clearly showed the Saints defender getting to the ball first. Phew!
So, we entered injury time. Newcastle came forward yet again and in the confusion, Ward-Prowse cleared a shot off the line, which went as far as Saint-Maximin, who made no mistake in hammering the ball home. 2-1. The crowd and the Newcastle players went absolutely crackers. Everyone in the stadium thought that had won it for the home side. Even Adam Blackmore was lamenting on Solent that Newcastle had snatched the three points at the death. Everyone thought this, but for the Saints players.
One last effort from Saints saw Redmond driving deep into Newcastle territory and send a perfect pass forward to Adam Armstrong. It looked as if Lascelles had made a saving tackle right in front of the goal. Mr Tierney waved away Saints appeals and in the ensuing confusion Lascelles lay down in their area looking for treatment/wasting time. People suddenly realised that VAR were reviewing the Lascelles/Armstrong clash for a possible penalty. Mr Tierney was in conversation with Mike Dean, the VAR official today (Yes, I know, Mike Dean wanting to give us something!). After a few seconds Paul Tierney went across to watch the pitch side monitor and without further ado pointed for a penalty. Watching the replay, it was clearly the right decision.
Deep breath. James Ward-Prowse stepped up and made no mistake to make the score 2-2!
There was only enough time to kick off again before the final whistle was blown, to the sound of boos ringing around the ground. A very hard fought point and the Saints players deserved no less. And an important lesson for me to learn, having given up on the game after Newcastle's second goal - it isn't over until the fat lady sings.
Man of the Match
There were two main candidates in my opinion, the first being the excellent Tino Livramento, who has just way outperformed expectations since arriving from Chelsea. The second was Mo Elyounoussi. What can I say about him? He is like a player reborn. He has had six involvements in goals in the last two games - four goals and two assists. Having not had one in all his previous games before his loan to Celtic.
So, I am pleased to be giving the Man of the Match award to Mo Elyounoussi and hope that he continues to have such a positive effect on the team.