Saints At Sheffield United The Verdict
Sunday, 15th Sep 2019 10:47
Sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and get down in the mud and get dirty and that is what Saints did to get three points that takes up up into the top half of the table.
I said in the preview that last season our problems were compounded by the fact that we lost crucial games in the first half of the season away at Fulham & Cardiff, that we needed to battle in these matches and make sure that we were not beaten.
This is what we did at Sheffield United and although this was not a win achieved in a organised and disciplined fashion, it was one honed from sheer graft.
Going forward and in midfield we were very good, but all of our issues were caused defensively where in the back three we lacked any sort of leadership and for the first 40 minutes were totally disjointed.
The central defensive trio did not talk or organise and we were getting ripped to shreds down the left where repeatably they got a man over as Moussa Djenepo struggled to come to terms with his wing back role, he wasn't playing badly, but he was getting no help from the back three to talk him through what was needed and were he should be.
Just after we nearly went ahead through Che Adams, we should really have gone behind when the hosts played a simple ball that found David McGoldrick completely unmarked and through on goal with both Yoshida and Vestergaard stood watching, neither communicating with the other that the ex Saints forward was completely unmarked.
After that Ralph Hasenhuttl reshuffled swapping Cedric to the left and we started to get a better grip.
But it was still not pretty to watch and either side looked like they could break the deadlock.
Saints again had to rely on VAR with the Blades having a goal ruled out for offside and a handball claim which after viewing it whilst I can understand why it was ruled out if I had been a home fan I would be a little disappointed we didn't get.
If we were disjointed at the back then in midfield going forward we were sublime, Boufal and Dejenepo ran at the home defence and Hojbjerg, Romeu and JWP provided the foundation winning the ball and feeding it to the attacking players.
Che Adams continued his run without a goal, but he was unlucky hitting the post and seeing a decent header produce a top drawer save to keep the scores level in the first half..
Moussa Djenepo won the game with a great mazy run, best described as Le God with pace and slid the ball into the corner.
Then it was just a case of keeping it tight, which we could not quite do and always looked like we might give it away as the Blades piled forward with gay abandon.
But we won because we never gave up and never stopped battling and played with confidence, we know what the problems are and they still need addressing, sometimes these failings will cost us goals, at Bramall Lane it didn't so I think we have to be prepared to accept that we will win some we will lose some, we need to get to January well clear of relegation problems and then look to make that key signing who will turn us back into a solid top ten team.
A good win because we won it with at least four players who would normally have played, Nathan Redmond is of course injured and you feel that we would have torn them apart with him, Kevin Danso would have made a difference at the back if he had not been suspended and it seems that there is a reason that we are unaware of why Yan Valery and Ryan Bertrand were not in the team, we certainly seemed to need at least one of them in the first half.
So it was good to win with so many players missing and that bodes well for the rest of the season.
It was good to see Billy Sharp get a good reception from Saints fans when he warmed up and a bigger one when he came on, but it was not to be a good day for Billy when he was sent off for a tackle on Stuart Armstrong, first thoughts are it was harsh, but on watching it on TV although he didn't follow through with what could have been a nasty tackle, he still made enough contact and raked his studs down his shin to perhaps warrant the straight red, harsh yes, but not the miscarriage of justice many thought at the time.
On a bizarre note, my seat was right in the corner, in all my years of watching football the ball hits the corner flag and stays in rarely, i have gone years without seeing it happen, but in this game the ball hit the same corner flag in front of me twice and stayed in to the the home sides advantage, whether this was a Chris Wilder tactic to use that post as a 12th man of sorts i'm unsure but it is certainly a rareity in football.
Photo: Action Images
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 31 bloggers
Letters from Wiltshire #33 by wessex_exile
Today we face a trip to Crawley, not usually a venue that bears fruit for the U’s it has to be said. In nine visits we’ve only won once in the league, and once in the League Cup. Of course, we’ll all remember that League Cup victory, indeed many of us were probably there to see us progress through to 5th round and the dream fixture against Manchester United at Old Trafford. All of our goal-scorers that night, Luke’s Norris and Gambin, and Cohen Bramall (okay, technically an O.G.), are no longer with us, so let’s hope at the very least that recent departee and subsequent returnee Frank Nouble can bag another like his late equaliser against Mansfield. Steve Ball commented during the week about how tight the league is at the moment, and he’s right that a couple of back to back victories would see us move significantly up the table away from danger – but we’ve got to win them first Steve – something we’ve failed to do since our 1-0 victory at Scunthorpe on December 8th.
Letters from Wiltshire #32 by wessex_exile
Fifty years ago yesterday, Colchester United of the 4th Division pulled off the greatest cup giant-killing ever, beating 1st Division Leeds United 3-2 at Layer Road. Watched by 16,000, and the Match of the Day cameras, Dick Graham’s U’s, a rag-tag band of mostly aging journeymen, defied the odds to defeat arguably the greatest club side in Europe at the time. “The greatest cup giant-killing ever” is a bold claim, and over the years various football magazines and websites have run their own polls of which was the greatest. Whilst that day at Layer Rd always features, as the years have gone by other feats fresher in the memory have been put forward as a candidate – we probably all remember Ronnie Radford’s screamer against Newcastle, Sutton’s exploits, or even Bradford City quite recently at Stamford Bridge – but these pale into insignificance when you pause to reflect on the Don Revie side that we beat that day. Sprake, Cooper, Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Giles etc – all full internationals, all household names – the only one missing was Billy Bremner, and that was because he was injured. By comparison, all we had to offer was Ray Crawford – at his peak arguably on a par with some in the Leeds side, but that peak had been ten years earlier playing for Ipswich and England. Eleven heroes didn’t just try and hold out against Leeds United, they took the game to their illustrious opponents with such tenacity, grit and no small amount of flair, and before we knew it, the U’s were 3-0 in the lead. As legs tired, Leeds got back into the game with goals from Hunter and Giles, but we held firm – typified at the death by Graham Smith pulling off an impossible save to ensure the U’s achieved the greatest cup giant-killing ever!
Letters from Wiltshire #31 by wessex_exile
And so the dust settles on another transfer window closing, and despite (my) expectations that the possibility of incoming business was going to be remote, we have instead seen a veritable flurry of activity, with no less than three coming in. Big Frank Nouble, making a very welcome return on loan from Plymouth Argyle, of course needs no introduction. Neither really does feisty Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu, here on loan last season, and this time signed full-time from Charlton Athletic for an undisclosed fee. Actually paying hard cash for someone did come as a surprise, presumably offset by the sale of Cohen Bramall to Lincoln for a similarly undisclosed fee. However, the fact that the Addicks have insisted on not only a sell-on clause, but a rarely used buy-back clause too, suggests (a) Wiredu’s signing fee probably wasn’t too high, and (b) Charlton are protecting those finances with these clauses. The last one, which would have been a complete surprise for me were it not for a contact leaking me the news earlier yesterday, is left-back Josh Doherty on loan from Crawley. Josh was only announced once outgoing left-back Bramall was confirmed, and presumably his loan is directly related to part-time fashion model, TV and radio celeb and former left-back Mark Wright signing for Crawley on a non-contract game-by-game basis in December. We have also released seven from the academy, Ollie Kensdale, Miquel Scarlett, Sammie McLeod, Michael Fernandes, Ollie Sims, Danny Collinge and Matt Weaire, and I’m sure we all wish them the best for the future.
Letters from Wiltshire #30 by wessex_exile
Friday night football – can’t beat it. Gives you that feelgood factor all weekend, sitting back to enjoy a stress-free Saturday afternoon watching others fail in your wake. Of course, you have to win first, which we’ve been struggling to do for a while now, so be prepared for the possibility of a miserable weekend just in case. We share this evening with Reading v AFC Bournemouth, albeit they kick-off an hour later than we do. In the real world, leaders of the UK’s five largest business groups have written to Boris demanding action on the substantial difficulties they are facing over Brexit bureaucracy, whilst French border authorities are reporting that two-thirds of lorries arriving from the UK are empty (i.e. no exports leaving the UK). Still, at least the NHS can enjoy their extra £350m per week…
Letters from Wiltshire #29 by wessex_exile
Looks like some around the world have started 2021 a bit cross. Never mind the attempted insurrection at the Capitol earlier this month, those normally laid-back Dutch have now been rioting for three nights running about the imposition of a night-time curfew to try and curb the spread of coronavirus. Farmers in Delhi have stormed through police lines and breached the Red Fort in protest against market reforms, and tragic Somalia has just passed the 30th anniversary of their ongoing civil war. In brighter news, President Biden has immediately begun dismantling and/or reversing some of Trump’s more contentious decisions, including rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, renewed funding for the World Health Organisation, revoking the ‘Muslim travel ban’, defunding the border wall, rescinding Trump’s report calling for a ‘more patriotic’ syllabus in schools, and overturning the ban on transgender people serving in the military.
[ Vote here ]