Southampton V Arsenal The Verdict
Wednesday, 27th Jan 2021 10:06
It was an injury too far for Saints as their patched up side struggled to find it's shape and became architects of their own downfall, continually giving the ball away and gifting the Gunners the game.
This was not a bad performance from Saints given the circumstances, they battled hard and even took an early lead, but Arsenal had the bit between their teeth and knew the game was there for the taking.
A month or so ago Saints rise up the table was built on a solid back four, for the game last night only Jan Bednarek was in the side to face the Gunners and that was never going to be good.
For the first 25 minutes or so the visitors continually ripped our back four apart and we struggled to find shape, Stuart Armstrong gave us an early lead with a well worked move finished with aplomb, but that was soon pegged back and soon we were on the back foot, Arsenal were playing us at our own game and we were struggling to cope, it didn't help that we seemed determined to give them a helping hand, we continually gave the ball away when passing from the back and the Gunners had pace.
But for a while in the first half we found some shape and confidence and looked like we could get a result, Adams had a header well saved, but 5 minutes before half time we shot ourselves in the foot again, Saka was put through but pushed out a little wide, Alex McCarthy came flying out of his goal and misjudged it completely meaning Saka had an open goal to slot into.
For much of the early second half we looked like we could get into it, Valery & Vokins were getting forward and an equaliser looked achievable., indeed Ralph Hasenhuttl looked to be going for it with 25 minutes to go bringing on Redmond and taking off Vokins with Diallo dropping back on the left, but within a minute we were 3-1 down, ex Saint Cedric sweeping the ball from one side of the pitch to the others and catching up napping yet again.
We huffed and puffed in the final 20 minutes, but it seemed even Ralph had written this one off in the final 10 minutes taking off Ings & Walcott for N Lundulu & Watts.
This was an injury and a game too far for Saints, at the back they were a shambles with no shape and no leadership, Valery & Vokins did not have bad games, but in the first half they seemed to have to leadership talking them through the game and unsure where they should have been, Jan Bednarek led by example continually making last gasp interceptions, but it was the old story, it needed an old experienced head to talk a back four playing together for the first time though the game and organise.
Our game is built from passing from the back and last night we were not only failing defensively, but passing the ball forward, we failed on numerous occasions to be able to find our own midfield players let alone our forwards.
Theo Walcott was a breath of fresh air a month ago, now he seems to struggle for an end product, so many times he get himself into a good position but can't get the ball away whether in a crossing/passing situation or having a shot, he seems to have to tackle and beat himself just at the final moment his control has been appalling.
I am loathe to even mention this in case I start a witch hunt, but good players have bad patches and Theo is having one at the moment, he will play through it.
Hopefully that is temporary , but if it continues he will have Nathan Redmond breathing down his neck.
We have to dust ourselves down and get on with things, this was not our normal back four and hopefully in the next week that will be back, Ryan Bertrand will return on Saturday and hopefully KWP, with Jannik Vestergaard returning we can have a flourish in the final third of the season.
Last night will have given the manager food for thought, he will have seen the bad old ways returning, he will know that he had a patched up side out at the back and he can change that, but he will also know he needs options off the bench, in truth the youngsters are not quite ready, they are fine for cameo roles when they slot into our normal side, but you can't get away with the en masse especially when a couple of senior players are having off days.
The season has a long way to go yet, things are still looking good or at least will do when the injured are back in the side.
On a final note the commentating on BT Sport was appalling, Martin Keown sounded almost neutral compared to I think Ian Darke, both waxed lyrical about Arsenal's youngsters and how they were tearing us apart, not once did they mention the patched up back four we had out nor the subs bench packed with teenagers, all they did was eulogise about Arsenal as they were ripping Real Madrid a new one, not a injury ravaged Saints team.
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|Farlow added 10:21 - Jan 27|
Saints need to sort out the Danny Ings contract situation,since its been going on he has been nowhere near what he can be.
|halftimeorange added 10:30 - Jan 27|
When we start the game with relative novices as full backs you would expect senior players to step up and lead by example. Stephens predictably played us into trouble, McCarthy seemed affected by Forster's recent good performances and JWP and Ings generally had quiet games. As your review points out, Walcott had a stinker, wasting our opportunities and ignoring others better placed to capitalise on through balls. Only Bednarek, who couldn't do everything, Diallo who shone until asked to play at left back and Armstrong had decent games. Adams tried hard but, I'm beginning to think that he's an unlucky player and the ball doesn't run for him however, relying on luck at our level isn't good enough. Vokins was given a total run around by Saka (who is an outstanding talent) and probably Ralph should have detailed JWP to mark him and played Redmond in midfield from the off as we'd seen what Saka could do in his cameo appearance at the weekend. Vokins will take an age to recover his confidence. That leaves Valery. I still think he's going to better employed in front of KWP or Bertrand. He is quick, he can cross but, his out and out defending is questionable. We are now mid-table and, with the depth and experience of the squad we have, that seems about right. Please, Ralph stop the short passes in our own penalty area. None of our back four knows wht to do next once the keeper gives them the ball.
|ElijahK added 10:32 - Jan 27|
In the end we mainly lost that down to the players unavailable to the team! I mean that’s the major reason we lost as we didn’t have our proper back 4, and didn’t have anyone on the bench who we could bring on and rely on to make a difference!
Personally I only thought that 3 players properly performed well, and that was Ward-Prowse, Armstrong and Diallo, those 3 were the only ones who went out onto that pitch and showed of why they should be playing week in, week out! But I also do have to say that Valery and Vodkins weren’t that bad and were decent enough for the young academy players that they were.
Everyone else on the other hand were soo poor today though, I mean Stephens I’ve defended countless times as really he is actually a decent defender for doing his tackles and duty, but his passing recently has been that dreadful that I’m certain the U16 saints team could have given away the ball many less times, especially the sort of passes like the where he gave it away before the goal as it just baffles me of how he did that! I mean I was also disappointed with Bednerak, especially for the second and third goal as both times he lost his man and that lead to them scoring, but at least he can make decent enough passes!
Others though weren’t too much better as McCarthy was quite poor for the second goal, and the 3 rd you’d of maybe thought he could be handles better by coming out to collect that cross, though he did make that decent early save. I mean I feel more comfortable with McCarthy in goal and dint want Forster to be in goal for even the FA cup games, but in the end I do think that Forster should get a chance or two (so maybe this weekend against Villa) to show why he should be in goal.
With our attack though I mean I do think that Walcott’s started to have quite a big dip in form and do think that he’s just creating very little and giving away the ball too much, hence why I’d say Redmond should get a chance against Villa. But of course he’s not the only attacking player who’s been poor recently as sorry but what is up with Che Adams as he’s now only scored 8 goals in like a season and a half (and has played practically every game, so has a ratio of pretty much 1 goal every 6/7 games!) and as much as he does do ok it’s just getting to a point now where I do start to wonder whether the likes of N’Ludelu or Tella should start a bit more, as I am starting to get a bit fed up of how very little Adams actually scores!
This games result though was mainly down to us having so many injuries, and yeah most of the players didn’t perform well at all, but like I’ve said, when your missing both full-backs and don’t have anyone on the bench, I mean what are you meant to expect!? (though I was quite confused of why Hastenhurtle didn’t just take off Walcott for Redmond and decided to take off Vodkins and decide to play a midfielder there!? I mean also when he took off Ings it pretty much said that he’d given up on the game which also was disappointing!)
But hopefully Hastenhurtle will look at how people have been playing and will edit the squad for Saturday and hopefully our team (especially in attack) can get going again! As I’m certain that if we didn’t have those 9 unavailable players since that Man U game, we’d of gotten many more points!
|LordDZLucan added 10:41 - Jan 27|
I have to agree with Farlow. It looks like Ings wants to go and that is affecting his form. It's eerily reminiscent of the van Dijk situation a few years ago and we know what effect that had on the team. Contract negotiations should be conducted over the summer when a player has at least 2 years left on his contract and if the player hasn't signed by the end of the summer they should be sold. Obviously that didn't happen with Ings but I would sell Ings before this transfer window closes. No point waiting to the summer because we'll get less money for him.
|Consigliere added 10:43 - Jan 27|
There are some long and thoughtful comments on this thread and some very good points made but I beg to differ slightly: In my view, the team didn't play badly and weren't all that much different to Saturday's game. The key differences were that we had much stiffer opposition and a weakened back line. In the circumstances I thought that we did pretty well, and given the choice, I would rather we had a decent cup run than be one or two places further up the league table. I think the manager made the right choice.
Completely agree about the BT commentary though, in the end I turned off the sound, watched the pictures and followed the live updates on the Guardian website such was my irritation!
|sandywelsh added 10:47 - Jan 27|
I said in the preview that if Valery and Vokins do come in alongside Stephens our defence will look very shaky.
Well Im sorry to say I was right. Are form has gone down hill since Vestergaard got injured. Stephens is a liability, an accident waiting to happen always was always will be. Last night our Defending was diabolical gifting Arsenal all three goals. What has happened to both Ings and Walcott they looked well off the pace.
Hopefully Walker-Peters will be fit on Saturday along with Romeo.
|davidargyll added 11:10 - Jan 27|
It must be so frustrating being Ralph.
We have some really great players coming through - and I reckon in a year or two we really could be challenging for Europe - but on the strength of last night’s performance not a snowball’s chance in hell for this season.
The saddest sight - and hopefully not indicative of other things - was the really frustrated look on Danny Ings’ face as he sat down in the stands having been subbed off: I could see him saying to himself, “have I really got the patience to be part of this lot...?”
Our performance was the epitome of what all those commentators describe as “a lot of huffing and puffing”; but ultimately it was when some of our poor defensive play in the past, which for whatever reason we have thus far got away with, finally came to kick us up the bum.
On the plus side, I really like Vokins and Valery, both of whom on the basis of last night’s performances, look like they will be quality players for us over the next few years: fast, brave and increasingly good crossers of the ball (which I think we have been missing recently). And Diallo also put in a really spirited performance; he is fitting in well.
But Oh my Christ, Jack Stephens .. he was the definition of a poor quality Championship defender last night, wasn’t he? particularly when he gifted them the first goal; and even though clearly Alex McCarthy made a real balls-up by coming out far too early, JS was also pretty much at fault for the second one - by simply not making anything like enough effort to get back in time - and arguably he could also have done more to stop the third one. He was so bad I wonder whether there isn’t something wrong with him. I was watching him a lot last night and the fact remains that however experienced he is, not only is he SLOW, he seems to have zero tactical nouse, always seems to be in the wrong place, never seems to get back into position fast enough, and most infuriating of all, when he is passed the ball sits on it for a few seconds tempting the opposite to come and take it off him and so often gets closed down.
Last night we were a ten man team playing a side who were clearly prioritising the PL rather than the FACup and it showed.
Mid-table mediocrity awaits...
|mattlegod added 11:11 - Jan 27|
Couldnt agree more about the abysmal commentating.
A very unlucky run of injuries has decimated our team, lets not for get that, and yet we are still challenging. We have lost balance, experience, individual skill and partnerships on the field that work well together.
That said, Stephens remains a liability, Theo looked tired, Armstrong looked back to his best, Vokins really struggled, Valery got better as the game went on, Dialo continues to show great potential. The one thing I couldnt understand was the switching Dialo to left back. Vokins was struggling, but at that point in the game we looked good, we kept Arsenal pegged back and were controlling and as such the pressure was off Vokins. As soon as RH made that changed we lost our control and shape.
Still so much to be positive about. In Ralph I still trust, just my opinion.
|mattlegod added 11:20 - Jan 27|
As an aside, lets not get all doom and gloom about all the gossip about Ings. The guy has had injuries and illness, his sharpness is bound to have taken a hit, lets not start putting it down to him wanting out, I truly believe the guy is far too professional for that.
|wibbersda added 11:49 - Jan 27|
Not true that there was no leadership at the back. Bednarek was doing this, but the other three were not responding, as they seemed to just be fighting fires and was too much to take on board. How many times is AM going to fluff his lines against Arsenal? Obviously, FF recent form has got into AM's head, and now he's trying to overthink and overplay.
|IanRC added 12:08 - Jan 27|
Plus side, Armstrong was fantastic, although he does struggle to keep up the intensity late on (not surprising given what he gets through). Diallo too looks a great player but as a midfielder not a full back. I thought Bednarak too played very well given the chaos around him. Valery too looked good going forward. I disagree with others about Che Adams, he is good at holding up the ball up and plays some delicious through balls. Just needs a goal for confidence.
Stephen’s was woeful last night having played much better recently, couldn’t believe his pass to them for their first goal. Vokins is young but on last nights performance has much to do if he is to come through. Hope the pressure from Fraser Foster isn’t unsettling McCarthy. Walcott had a shocker (again), we may want to reconsider making him a permanent addition if this keeps up. Redmond and Ings will take a little time to be fully fit and operational and personally I think Djenepo as well as Vestergaard of course are big misses for us.
Hope KWP and Bertrand are back for Villa, one win from seven games is not at all satisfactory.
|ronniedavies added 13:01 - Jan 27|
Ian Darke (BT Mouthpiece) supports the Scum that’s why he’s biased
|Saintaxidriver added 13:38 - Jan 27|
Don't want to be too negative as we did at least create a few chances but assessing the players firstly, MaCarthy has been pretty consistent all season but does have the odd mistake in him. Forster always looks a bit nervy to me and although managed clean sheets was not heavily tested. At the back Vokins not there yet and looks a bit lacking in pace when caught out of position, Stephens can put in a good performance but last night wasn't one of them and it is basic errors he is making. Also feel sometimes that I could go and make a cup of tea while waiting for him to decide what to do with the ball. Bednarek consistent. Valery not good enough defensively but would make a good right side midfielder. Armstrong usual consistent performer. Diallo excellent until Ralph pulled off one of his strange tactical decisions and put him left back. JWP fairly quiet and very deep most of the game. Walcott is beginning to look like a headless chicken running in to blind allies instead of looking up to see where his teamates are so no end product and no service for Ings or Adams. As far as I could see Ings and Adams put in a shift and had very little to work with and some things didn't come off. Nllundulu looks to me a bit slow and leggy and for his height doesn't win enough in the air. Redmond needs to get his confidence back and would prefer him as starter and Theo as impact sub.
I do feel tho that Ralph will work on these players failings and with the injured returning we will come good in the last part of the season.
|Whatsforpud added 13:40 - Jan 27|
Arsenal's first goal was a result of our insistence on taking short goal kicks when forwards are hovering at the edge of the area. I've lost count of the number of times these moves have led to a goal, not just by us, but other teams. Fine when the opposition is not pressing, but it seems to be obligatory whatever the circumstance. Sometimes Ings and Adams must be willing for a good old-fashioned long goal kick to come their way.
|mattlegod added 13:50 - Jan 27|
To be fair to AM, any goal keeper with that defence in front of him would have felt the pressure. Shouldn't judge him on one game, he has been solid most of the season.
|saintTom added 13:50 - Jan 27|
Ralph has to take a lot of the blame last night. It was obvious from very early on we couldn’t handle the high press with the players on the pitch; Stephen’s kept giving the ball away which cost us the first goal and nearly more. It’s frustrating to watch. Walcott is just not good enough, we need to look past the nostalgia. His decision making is terrible, he just runs into players, bad passing and isn’t a natural finisher.
On the bright side Diallo looks good and Armstrong played very well.
Hopefully we can at least make some loan signings as unfortunately those academy players are either not good enough or not ready yet, we need to stop believing in our own hype on this matter.
|SaintPaulVW added 13:52 - Jan 27|
All our passes looked off for the first 25 minutes or so. Whether this was fatigue or the conditions, which were appalling, I don't know.
Arsenal played well. I think the 3-1 slightly flatters them. The third goal was helped by a bit of gamesmanship. Saints switched off after a long delay and Arsenal took advantage.
Valery and Vokins looked their age. I thought Vokins did better in the second half.
I agree with the comments on Theo. He has all the gifts just needs work on his final ball. We have several of those players tho and at his age will he?
Diallo and Armstrong were excellent and probably our best players on the night. Although Diallo was slightly wrong footed for the third goal. It was just after he had switched positions though.
Ings, Ward Prowse and Adams all had off nights. Ings and Adams produce some great passes and excellent runs but they have to start scoring goals. Ward Prowse seemed to pass everything backwards last night.
At midway in the season with 29 points I can't be too disappointed overall. Games like these happen. I am convinced when the injury crisis is over we will bounce back.
I agree the commentary was very partisan. Increasingly the neutral stance is being abandoned to create 'drama'. This just seems to encourage the delivery of lazy anecdotes rather than any research being put in. Hey ho that's what the volume control is there for.
|saintmark1976 added 14:22 - Jan 27|
Why the continually criticism of the defence? Our problem is at the other end of the pitch. How are our keeper and defence responsible for the inability of the forwards? We’ve scored two goals in the last six league matches for pity sake and one of those was netted by a midfielder!
Ralph needs to get the forwards together ( yes, including Ings ) and read them the riot act, put simply, start performing or be prepared to be shipped out. We have too many forwards who are making very good money by living on their past reputations. He should remind them that we are safe from relegation thus if they don’t want to “ turn up “ regularly then he will play the youngsters to gain experience.
|AmericanSaint added 14:53 - Jan 27|
All have made some excellent points about the game last night. My two cents are that Valery is more of a midfielder and not fullback. I counted 10 times when Che or someone else made the run down the channel and he didnt make the pass and held it up to try and take on the defender. I was yelling at my tv. Next, Volkins does not have it. He was always playing catch-up to Saka and never in the right position. He does have a very decent cross, but dont think that makes up for this tactical awareness. He might also be a better midfielder than defender. he is young but not sure if he will get there. I think Redmond id nothing this game and it was his opportunity to try and take back the spot from Theo. He passed the ball backward more times than JWP.
NEXT - Jack Stephans - What the hell happened to you last night. You were so bad it was not even funny. You cost us the fist goal and as people said, maybe the other two. I think his biggest problem was holding the ball to try to find that perfect pass. That is what cost us the first goal. He was trying to be like Jann, who has the passing toolkit, but he failed miserably. I heard Ralph yelling at him to pass the ball and be quicker. UGH. I know he has played better over the past few games, but last night showed why he can only be a backup and will never a true starter in this league.
Finally - I think this game just shows that with our lack of quality in many departments, we are really a mid-table team and until we can get a new owner who will invest in the club, then we will have hard time achieving more. As I said earlier this season when the American Billionaire was trying to buy us and Gao got greedy, we were screwed. I will still cheer them on, but we need a new owner ASAP. In case you didnt see it, the $75M loan we got at 9.5% is unbelievably bad to cover the COVID losses. That is how poorly the bank thinks of Goa as the owner and our future.
|AmericanSaint added 15:57 - Jan 27|
Last thought after watching RH after game interview and comments again - If we do not back him in getting some coverage, I am afraid he will walk this summer when another club comes calling. And they WILL. We will re-enter our manager merry-go-round cycle and then the quality players will leave too.
|underweststand added 16:29 - Jan 27|
Arteta learned from Saturday and took advantage of us playing two fledgling full backs. On Saturday, Arsenal had 62% possession yet both sides still managed just 11 shots each.
Last night we had 58% and 13 shots, yet Arsenal clinically converted 3 of their 9 shots.
Pepe finally showed up for his £72 million fee, and cause havoc in our defence.
A few days ago, I remarked on our two "improving" goalkeepers, and although Alex McCarthy has radically improved this season, old habits die hard and once again he was caught in no-mans-land like the proverbial rabbit in the headlights. We all saw it - and there is little more to be said on the matter. Still room for improvement here.
Vokins and Valery both "had their moments" , but as soon as modern-day attacking full backs get over the the halfway line, they forget that they are primarily " defenders ". Both were blatantly guilty of this in their enthusiasm to impress.
Stephens and Bednarek had helped keep 5 clean sheets since Boxing Day but seemed preoccupied with " baby-sitting " the two young FB's to the detriment of their own normally stable partnership. Both were indecisive and will want to forget this one.
One good sign was Armstrong very well-taken early goal (surely a bad omen) but it was probably his best performance in a long while, and that was encouraging.
Diallo and Ward-Prowse did everything we expect of them, but the whole team seemed out of sorts and we missed a few good scoring chances, and a lot more second balls.
Our strike force is really going through a bad time. Injury and covid aside , Danny Ings has scored once in his last 7 starts, and Ché Adams has failed to score in his last 7 games.
Along with Theo Walcott they all seem to be "trying too hard" and the result is obvious.
The subs. showed little improvement: Nathan Redmond came on and promptly did his famous "disappearing act" and was out of the action for much of the time.
N'Lundulu does a lot of enthusiastic running without actually getting near the ball, and
the form of Callum Watts may improve - if he can avoid getting more yellow cards.
YES - it was our 4th game in 8 days, and with few alternatives to choose from the bench, I guess we must admit - all things considered - they did as well as they could.
Onto Saturday, where 3 points v. Villa are desperately needed if we are to get above the morass of mediocre clubs currently wading around in mid-table.
|schatfield added 17:47 - Jan 27|
Good old saints fans - always quick to put the boot in on our own players as soon as we lose a game. Never changes.
With all our injuries, and the team Arsenal had (and what a talent Saka is), sometimes you have to accept that the better team will win. But dont let that stop you putting the boot in.
Onto the next......
|I_would added 22:37 - Jan 27|
Pretty much spot on Nick. I can't help wondering if we'd have freed up £60k+ pw by not renewing Long's contract (which has now proven to be a huge mistake) we might have had some wages available for a loan of an out of contract, experienced, defensive player.
|SanMarco added 22:55 - Jan 27|
So that's Ings and Ralph off then? Rather a panicked response from some I think. Like all good players Ings was disappointed to be subbed. Ralph knows the situation at Saints and if a few injuries scares him off then so be it.
I actually thought we played quite well but in the end the changes at the back were too much for us. The playing out from the back in the first 20 mins was appalling and should have been changed. After all, the winning goal came from a long goal kick for goodness sake!!
I thought Theo was poor again but Armstrong was excellent. I question the point of the Redmond for Vokins swap. A minute later they got their third behind Diallo. Why not Redmond for Theo? We were doing alright, 20 mins to go and 2-2 looking every bit as likely as 1-3.
I think those that point to us not scoring enough have a little bit of a point. Yes, three avoidable goals cost us the game but we didn't take our chances for a second. Going 2-1 up in the first half or equalising in the second would have tested Arsenal's resolve, they were sharper than us but they weren't that much better given our problems.
I am afraid I have to agree on the TV commentary. My highlight was them moaning about a couple of Arsenal players being out and then belatedly giving a 'to be fair' Saints had 'one or two' missing too. It is a disgrace because it is BIAS and that shouldn't be happening. I suppose having Franny talk for a couple of minutes at half time is supposed to be 'balance'....
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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.