|Southampton 2 v 0 Huddersfield Town|
Saturday, 4th January 2020 Kick-off 15:01
Saints V Huddersfield The Verdict
Sunday, 5th Jan 2020 11:04
A good crowd turned up at St Mary's to see the two full debutants score the goals that saw us through to the next round of the FA Cup.
It was a much changed crowd that turned up to see a much changed side take on Huddersfield in the FA Cup, many of the regulars in the Premier League gave this one a swerve and were replaced by hordes of families and kids, it made for a different atmosphere, but I'm not criticising, we need to be encouraging the younger generation to support their local team and not just a big six side.
But there was not a lot to excite them on the pitch, Saints put out a side with an equal mix of first teamers, fringe players and youngsters and they struggled to find any sort of rhythm.
They weren't helped by a Huddersfield side who looked content to sit back and see what happens and what happened was they barely got out of their own half or troubled our goal except when we deigned to give them the ball by some slack passing around the back line and their was plenty of that.
My main gripe about the side put out was that Kevin Danso was given a rare outing, yet he was played at right back rather than at centre half and although he was comfortable in defence going forward he was not so clever.
Vestergaard and Yoshida were the two central defenders and they did nothing to convince Ralph Hasenhuttl that they can force their way back into his plans, a better more interested side might have stretched them, luckily that was not Huddersfield.
So it was a lacklustre first half although Saints thought they had gone ahead when Shane Long ran through and finished with aplomb, but VAR intervened and it was chalked off.
The second half started well though, a deep Kevin Danso cross was headed back by Shane Long and Will Smallbone could easily have blazed over, but he kept his shot low and hard and in it went.
That gave Saints the control they needed and the visitors did not appear to be too bothered, the game then went into a familiar pattern, Saints passed it around a lot, not always accurately and Huddersfield occasionally half heartedly tried to take advantage.
The game looked to be petering out to the 1-0 defeat that both sides looked to be happy with when Jake Vokins let fly from distance for a spectacular goal.
Overall this was not a great game to watch and it probably didn't tell Ralph Hasenhuttl a lot either, he will have been buoyed by the two debutants scoring well taken goals, but he will probably feel they are not yet ready to push for a game in the Premier League just yet.
He will have learned little about Kevin Danso who out of position at right back still hasn't been tried in his true position in Central defence or even the centre of midfield.
Vestergaard and Yoshida did not star in the centre of defence and struggled to do anything other than pass the ball along the back line and even that they did not do well, emphasising the need to bring in a new central defender in January.
Sofiane Boufal should have stamped his authority on this game, but he again had little end product, he had some good runs that either ended with a poor cross, failing to even get one in or throwing himself to the ground.
He signalled to the bench that he wanted to come off even when he appeared to be uninjured, some Saints fans and probably the manager himself had high hope for the return of Boufal because of a couple of early performances, but he has rarely produced anything to suggest he should start games and this was one such performance, an impact player in the last 15 minutes at best.
In goal Angus Gunn got the game he needed under his belt, he did everything he had to with confidence and hopefully will be back to his best and push for a recall to the First team in the Premier League to keep Alex McCarthy on his toes.
A year ago we went out to another Championship side in Derby County and this game did show us that with the players we were missing that we do have a stronger squad this year, back then several of the team put out yesterday were considered first choices, now they are very much back up players, that should give us confidence that we are moving forward as a squad and can pull well clear of trouble at the bottom.
But Saints are through to the 4th round and that was the main aim of the day, we can hopefully get a good draw in this round and progress into the next which this year is not played until March, if by then we have virtually secured safety in the Premier League then we could take the competition seriously and look to mount a serious challenge.
Photo: Action Images
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