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Southampton V Crystal Palace The Verdict
Tuesday, 11th May 2021 22:48

It was a typical slow start for Saints as they went a goal down early doors, but the good news is the team rolled up its sleeves and earned a win the hard way, the League table looks a lot better this evening and Ralph Hasenhuttl showed that he has more than just a plan B.

Saints could not have started more badly, Palace clearly had a game plan and it was to attack us from the start before we had found our rhythm and it worked, a poorly defended goal was conceded with barely 2 mins on the clock and for 10 minutes or so it looked like this would be another one of those games.

But clearly the team spirit is still there and we dug in and on 19 minutes we got our rewards, Nathan Redmond played in a decent ball to Danny Ings who fired home to equalise.

But if we thought that we would now have Palace on the rack we were wrong, again we got caught napping and Zaha looked for and got a penalty, but Fraser Forster had done his homework and dived to his left to save well.

At the start of the second half it was the reverse of the first, it was Saints who came out of the blocks first and it was Che Adams who scored it, squeezing home at the far post and although Palace huffed and puffed and used their physical presence, Saints stood firm and started to look like the side of 6 months ago.

Just as Palace were starting to try and build up their own finale with 15 minutes to go Che Adams did well to control a through ball and lay it into the path of Danny Ings who poked it past the visitor's keeper, it would be his last kick and on came Michael Obafemi.

Palace never stopped trying, but Saints has the bit between their teeth and made sure that they didn't let Palace back in it.

This was a team performance, no one is saying we are world beaters, but there wasn't a single one on the pitch who came off without knowing they had played their part in a well earned win and put in a shift.

Fraser Forster looked like the keeper of old big & strong and saving a penalty at the right time, you couldn't say he made any wonder save, but he did all that was asked as him

The central defenders had a torrid time but stuck with it as Hasenhuttl changed his formation at the back twice in the second half, bringing on Salisu for Bednarek at half time in the centre and then reverting to a back three bringing Stephens into the centre of the trio from left back.

I'm impressed with Mohamed Salisu every time I see him, he is big and strong and he has quick feet , add to that he can read a game and he can be a class player next season.

In the centre of midfield James Ward Prowse has been forced to play a more withdrawn role since Stuart Armstrong came into the centre, with JWP holding whilst the Scot surged forward.

Nathan Redmond gets a lot of stick but he did a lot of good things out there tonight including laying on Danny Ings ist goal, on the other side Minamino was clever and worked well with KWP to create some good chances.

Up front Danny Ings with two goals took the plaudits, but Che Adams quietly gets on with things, a well taken goal and a lovely through ball for Ings second.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has to be given some credit here, with almost a full squad to pick from he adapted well and changed tactics and formation to ensure that we managed the game for 40 minutes after taking the lead, he should get a lot of credit for what he has done this season in trying times with a squad decimated by injury.

So this wasn't a perfect game, there were still plenty of things that need to be worked on, but this is not the time to do it, lets just enjoy a great performance that told us we have the foundations for next season and that we can finish the season with a flourish and just enjoy the last few games.

Photo: Action Images

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felly1 added 23:07 - May 11
Well done our boys, a solid workmanlike performance . God I hope we can sort the Ings contract issue out, he's absolutely top class even when he's not in the game he can finish like no other player we've got.

codge added 23:10 - May 11
I agree with most Nick but have to say Minameno offered little although give him his due he hustled more trying to get back but still don’t think he would be the answer as he is to lightweight.
As a team we played a lot better but the first minutes we were awful, it looked like to many other games this year. We still need help in defense and several other positions as we would off been turned over by a better team.Still a believer after over 60 yrs l always will be Coyr.

Saintsforeverj added 23:11 - May 11
A good win and well needed. Agree about Salisu - he looks like a gem with massive potential. The team showed tonight how we can play and that Ralph must be given the summer and next season to turn things around. Ings also looked back tonight - good news. Up the Saints.

ElijahK added 23:32 - May 11
This performance tonight just showed that we can do well when we have the players we need, and the only way this can be made more consistent is simply by helping the players to improve like Adams, and getting in the cover we need for these positions in the summer.

Bison added 00:07 - May 12
We have had bad luck this season on so many fronts like injuries and VAR but I fully expect us to win all of our remaining games now. 3-1 , 3-1 , 3-1 .

stmichael added 00:42 - May 12
JWP played the same role he has played all season as a holding midfield player.
With Romeo injured and Diallo benched its Armstrong that has been forced into a more defensive role.
Nothing changed for JWP...
Good performance tonight though ...

stmichael added 00:42 - May 12
JWP played the same role he has played all season as a holding midfield player.
With Romeo injured and Diallo benched its Armstrong that has been forced into a more defensive role.
Nothing changed for JWP...
Good performance tonight though ...

1teeminants added 04:41 - May 12
A good all round performance with everyone pulling their weight. You could see the confidence growing as the game went on which was a bit fragile at first and palace took advantage. I loved the way JWP can get a bit nasty now. Saints are often far too nice and they don’t know how to play the game that some other players of other teams do so well, we are sometimes too nice.

Ings was superb, Armstrong Adams and JWP excellent, Forster did well and Salisu is going to be some player in a year or two. Let’s finish the season strong and buy a few quality additions in the summer to help Ralph out. We also need to sell a few.Up the saints.

davidargyll added 07:14 - May 12
With the shackles off, last night proved we are really quite a good, and what’s more, entertaining and watchable team.
As I said before we may be a mid-to-bottom half club but on last night’s performance we are most definitely NOT a bottom three one. Yes there were some cock ups but also there was some great defending - for example I thought the way Jack Stephens got back to stop an almost certain goal having ballsed up his back pass was excellent.
Of the others, I thought Minamino worked tirelessly and looked to me as he was trying to impress the management into buying him - he can only continue to improve. Redmond has some flashes of brilliance. KWP was a permanent thorn in Palace’s side. JWP was excellent especially his shortish corner that led to the second goal. JV seemed to have got his mojo back. The front two generally looked much better together without Theo messing them up: Che tried hard as ever and got his reward; and Danny…what more can be said about him. The subs were great. And FF was a tower of strength.
And overall they just looked like a really happy team. Did you see the expressions of genuine pleasure when they scored the goals? Spoke volumes.
And finally Danny’s interview; they way he spoke and talked about the team with real pride I thought indicated only one thing, “I ain’t going nowhere…!”

underweststand added 08:04 - May 12
Our defenders were still waking up when Benteke barged his way through to score, but after that Saints upped their game and once again Danny Ings scored whilst many were waiting to see what he would do next. You couldn't say that they were even "chances", they were goalbound as soon as they left his boot. What a difference he makes.

JWP making more passes than anyone else on the pitch, and although he looks more subdued it gives Armstrong more room for creativity. Minamino's best game (?) but
he's only in the side for his goal potential and is playing too deep to get many chances.

Tough luck on Bednarek (injury) but Salisu played like a seasoned pro. Seemed to have time with passing - no panic and looks a class act out on the left, and Stephens was much happier playing as CB (despite the predictable bad pass once a game). Redmond looked better, but still lacks the attacking play he showed when he first arrived.
A goal for Ché Adams was just reward for the blood, sweat and luckless performances he's put into the last two months. Fraser Forster looking like a class keeper (again) and a good penalty save from such a big man.

Overall a good team performance to brighten the end of season rush of games, and it will be good to see how they handle Leeds next week, who play an all-out 100 mph style.


WestSussexSaint added 08:34 - May 12
I’m not sure this match demonstrated that Ralph had a Plan B, more that he was certain that based on the way Palace play he was convinced that Plan A would work.

I would be so disappointed if I were a Palace fan as despite the early goal they reverted to such negative tactics that allowed Saints to play their way back into the match. If they had gone for the throat the result may have been very different.

Danny Ings shows how valuable he is to this team. Not just with his goals which he stands apart as a premium finisher but the whole team plays at a higher level with him in the side. Those intangibles are critical and why we need to retain his services.

Salisu continues to impress as does KWP who gave Zaha precious little to feed off and was a threat going forwards. Stephens is a solid player when asked not to do to much which was the case last night but he is not the answer at left back. We need to address the in balance as a duel threat with two full backs would give so many more options.

Like others I was disappointed with Minimino again. I just don’t see what he adds that we don’t already have on the bench with the likes of Tella or Djenepo.

Last word to JWP. Great battling performance and seemed to cove every blade of grass last night. Plus a few niggles with Palace players and not just Zaha this time. He really loves playing Palace!

SaintPaulVW added 09:27 - May 12
Enjoyable game to watch. Although we went one down we never seemed to lose heart.

Ings showed the difference that a quality striker makes. Ings and Adams make a good team up front.

Armstrong, KWP and JWP again put the miles in. I would prefer to see Stu play further forward tho.

Redmond looked up for it. I firmly believe he is a player that thrives on confidence. When he is up for it he causes all sorts of problems for the opposition with some great direct runs. When he isn't the tackling drops off and the ball gets hit backwards.

Minamino didn't do anything to justify him being kept on.

Salisu again looks class. Bednarek deserves a rest, so I hope Salisu starts to get a full game soon.

Really pleased for Big Frase. Great to see a goalkeeper come back from hitting a low point. Too many never recover once they hit a bad spell in what is the most mentally stressful podition

Obafemi again looked good in the short time he was allowed. Although he seems to have spent his time off shredding himself in the Gym. Starting to look like Danny Wallace on steroids, hopefully his goal scoring will follow this too!

Stephens again played well. Hopefully he will be happy with a support role.

It will be interesting to see how we do against the likes of Leeds and West Ham. If we play like this they could be great contests to watch.


highfield49 added 10:27 - May 12
As davidargyll posted earlier the team looked like a happy bunch, celebrating success together and pulling together when things weren't going so well on the pitch. The sort of performance we want to see on a regular basis and a step up from some of the frankly dismal displays we've witnessed in the last few months. I can't agree more with those who have said that Walcott and Minamino are not the players we need for next season. Whilst I like both players and appreciate their talents they are too lightweight when it comes to the physical side of top level football and a luxury we can't afford.
On a separate note Andy Madley restored my belief that at least some referees are worth congratulation for not spoiling the game. And, do we really need VAR wasting time deciding whether or not Forsters trailing foot was on or behind the goal line when he saved the penalty? Abuse of the system, just like the ridiculous offside decisions teams have suffered all season, unwarranted fiddling with the flow of the match.
A couple more wins to end the season will be a relief but let's not get to the point where papering over the cracks is seen as the foundation for next season, much work to be done on the recruitment side.

beynali73 added 10:37 - May 12
A well overdue result with a decent performance against an average team. The relief at 3 points is incredible but the real work starts now and through the summer.


SaintStu7 added 10:38 - May 12
Much better performance with more players contributing, Ings the difference between the teams. Minamino worked hard but if we are not going to sign him, I would rather have seen Tella given more game time. Redmond did appear to play better but he again gave the ball away often and was gifted oceans of space and time which he did very little with. A winger given that amount of the ball should b doing much more with it. He again slowed down play and not once got past his marker. Much happier today though and really pleased for the manager and team.

beynali73 added 10:39 - May 12
And nice to see Che score a goal without blasting it - Ings gives Che something to aim his hard work at

JoeEgg added 12:09 - May 12
A win at last and I need add very little to the excellent report submitted by WestSussexSaint who says it all and says it well. If Palace had taken their penalty things might have been very different however and I still cant understand why Ralph doesn't start with Salisu!
Our squad clearly needs strengthening and I hope we dont lose Vestergard or Bertrand. They are quality players who would most likely be replaced by more mediocrity. We certainly cannot afford to lose Danny Ings!! He will miss his usual quota of matches with injuries, but Saints look a different team when he is fit and playing.
I am not convinced that Ralph is the best man for the job but I guess his position looks safe now - after all we beat Palace and could even put one over Fulham!! Leeds will be a different proposition altogether so I will wait and reserve judgement until I see how Ralph manages that game. While we have been in near terminal decline since Christmas , Leeds have prospered and grown. Lets see what happens when the two clubs meet!
Off subject there are now so many social media sites tracKing Saints FC - mostly misleading, misguided and just simply total 'crap'. It is very refreshing therefore to have Nick's the Ugly Inside, where although I have disagreed with many of his recent 'Verdicts', you can trust the information he provides and feel that this is a site which genuinely seeks to add to our appreciation and understanding of our Football Club. Many thanks Nick.

ExiledSupporter added 12:13 - May 12
Yes, agree with almost all of the other contributors comments.

Just want to emphasise a few points.

*we have too many players who have poor first touches, especially amongst the forwards, most notably Walcott and Minamino, but also Adams who to some extent makes up for it with a great deal of hard work, while the other two are simply not strong enough on the ball. Redwood's first touch is not good and he seems very unwilling to run more directly at players and his shooting is erratic at best. Djenepo has something that these others don't which is considerable speed and very clever ball skills, but is also knocked off the ball too easily. I think that we should use him more intelligently, so expecting him to do a little less defensive effort (which he has worked hard at improving) and more of a breakaway role where he can run directly at retreating defenders and make them turn against their wishes. So don't keep either Walcott or Minamino, but perhaps we should consider retaining Elyanoussi in their place, he seems to have done well at Celtic (?)
* next season we should play both Romeu and Diallo in the defensive midfield with Oriol staying back and Ibrahima going forward more. Together they will be reminiscent of the Schneiderlin/Wanyama (though not the same) allowing JWP to advance more and the admirable Armstrong to play in the hole (fantastic direct runs, great engine, plays with his head up, want him to stay as long as possible please) JWP and SA need more opportunity to score more goals by being closer to the opposition's penalty box.
* what we really need is exactly what neither Ings nor (oddly) Adams give us ie. a classic centre forward who can play with his back to goal, but can also turn, redistribute, bully defenders and score This would take some of the responsibility of Ings and probably mean that he would have more scope himself in the box. Someone like Pele for instance?
* while we have a very poor defensive record I'm not convinced that we lack enough quality defenders to tighten up play, with special mention to Salisu (looks like a star) and Bednarek (the latter is top of the league in blocking and has played strongly all season. What we really need is, not another import, but a much cheaper expert defensive coach and get rid of one of our too many goalkeeping coaches turned general factotums
* obviously we need another attacking wing back with non negotiable defensive quality given RB's departure
* we clearly need more depth in the squad than we have had this year (arguably RH's biggest mistake in the past)

Block8 added 13:34 - May 12
Good performance after a poor start. Can't say we have a plan B as we clearly don't but with Ings movement we are able to pass the ball forward more quickly. that we need to replicate with our other forwards, we bemoan the sideways and backward passes but without good movement in front of you there really are no other options!
Nice to be back to winning ways COYR

Colburn added 13:45 - May 12
Two teams who had nothing to play for. Palace looked less interested than us for obvious reasons as Ralph desperately needed a win. The defence played ok after the first ten minutes and we can't blame them for the conceding of the penalty, which was Redmond who undid the one positive thing he did with a clumsy challenge. It may have been a different second half if Fraser hadn't saved it.. The win was largely due to the central figures JWP, Armstrong, Adams and Ings who were all magnificent. Redmond to be fair did improve in the second half and linked up well. Minamino however doesn't look like he knows what he's doing and needs more time to learn Ralph's way if he's going to work. The big plus for me was Salisu, I have no idea why he didn't start as it's been obvious for a while that Bednarek has needed a break, mentally as much as anything and Salisu needs game time. I think this was possibly the main reason we were so dominant in the second half. Salisu must play more and he can pass the ball too.
Finally a word for Jack Stephens who has stepped in wherever asked and performed with heart and soul each time. He made one error but recovered it and he deserves a nod for his efforts as its tough to step in to unusual positions in a struggling team having had little game time. This should have been noted more in this verdict.

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