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Southampton At Newcastle United The Verdict
Sunday, 29th Aug 2021 10:14

Drama in the final minutes in a game that Saints snatched a point from the jaws of defeat, but really should have won comfortably but didn't due to poor finishing and poor defending, but due to the last kick of the game equaliser it felt a lot better than it should of.

Ralph Hasenhuttl tweaked the side brining in Moi Elyounoussi for Theo Walcott and Kyle Walker Peters at left back for Romain Perraud to offer something a little different than in the opening two Premier league fixtures.

The match stats make familiar reading for Saints fans, total domination in possession 64% with 22 shots compared to the hosts 10, but a failure to convert these to to the ones that matter on target 6 with Newcastle 5 and of course the goals stats 2 apiece.

We had glaring misses not least Moussa Djenepo who scooped it over the ball with an open goal at his mercy from close range and we had poor defending with Newcastle breaking twice to score after finding themselves catching out a defence who failed to watch where their men were .

When Newcastle scored on 55 minutes it was totally against the run of play, a diagonal ball catching our defence square and giving Newcastle a lead they scarcely deserved, when Saints got back on level terms with Moi Elyounoussi making it 4 goals in a week with a sliding equaliser that was initially saved by the keeper only to hit the Saints player as his sliding momentum carried him forward and he bundled it over the line.

The cross from Nathan Redmond was inch perfect to pick out the player and credit must be given to Redmond to offering Saints a different attacking option when he came on with his ability to run at players.

From then on you thought it would be Saints who would finish it off, the crowd was on their backs and surely we could capitalise.

But it was Newcastle who appeared to win the game on the stroke of 90 minutes, from the upper slopes of Mount St James Park the initial through pass looked to be offside but there was no flag, defending worthy of our worst moments of last season then ensued before who else but Saint-Maxim fired the ball home to give the Toon a win they didn't deserve.

At least that is what everyone in the ground felt, both home and away fans, but there was to be a late late twist, with the clock already past the allotted injury time, it was Nathan Redmond who ran at the home defence and threaded a through ball for Adam Armstrong, a last ditch tackle appeared to have dealt with the danger, but then came VAR and it showed that the former Newcastle striker had been clearly brought down.

The tension was unbearable both for home and away fans, but James Ward Prowse made no mistake with what proved to be the last kick of the game but one the final whistle being blown immediately after the restart.

It felt like a win, but the reality is that it was a bitter sweet draw, the bitter as how we had nearly thrown the game away in the 90th minute, where was the cool head at the back making sure that we had everyone marking their men and tight, we were in disarray and had lost concentration.

When Saint - Maxim scored there were 5 Saints players and the goalkeeper in the penalty area but only 3 Newcastle players yet we were all at sea.

The sweet in that even with only 4 minutes of injury time left we still kept going and Nathan Redmond answered some of his critics by his running and delivery that brought that last gasp penalty.

For much of the game we had possession we moved the ball well but lacked urgency, that changed with the arrival of Redmond in the 58th minute and it showed that the squad now has depth.

The fact was though that even though this was a point we have failed to get in each of our last 3 visits to St James Park, it really should have been all three, we were the better side throughout and for all the improvement in the squad, the Achilles heel remains our inability to control the game defensively, no one takes charge in the back four and both goals could have and should have been defended.

If we had got al three points this would have been a good start to the season, as it is it is average, out of the corresponding fixtures last year we got 0 points, this year we have got 2 and there are some good signs we have a good squad.

But the it still goes back to the fact that we have not addressed that central defensive weakness, perhaps Lyanco will be the answer and hopefully by the next game he will be ready to make his debut.

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JoeEgg added 11:16 - Aug 29
A very good summary Nick well done! If Ralph really thinks Stephens is the answer to our Central Defensive problems then I beg to differ once again. I have nothing against Stephens as a player but he does not command or organise. If Ralph keeps moving defenders around they will never learn to work together.. We still have Lyanco to follow and I hope he plays better than when I saw him briefly in Italy! The best surprise is the acquisition of Small. Who ever was responsible for this capture deserves a medal - he will soon be a great asset for Saints. So the raw material is there but the leader isn't!
Up front we cannot continue to miss chances like the one squandered by Djenepo. Neither Armstrong nor Adams looked like scoring and I worry that we really are going to miss Ings. Ralph has work to do here because if we keep conceeding at the back we are going to need two or three goals a game ourselves.
So for once we start the season with some fresh faces and very promising ones at that! I worry about Ralph's observations after a game and selections before the game. I believe the next half a dozen games should be time enough for him to sort out his first choice team with appropriate tactics. So I will leave it at that for the time being - but although Ralph is in nothing like the position poor Steve Bruce finds himself in - I am still not comfortable with our man in charge!

highfield49 added 11:16 - Aug 29
Oh well, at least you're not claiming that Cahill would have prevented both of the Newcastle goals Nick. Their first goal probably could and should have been defended better and the second goal shambolic but arguably the result of 70% possession which ought to have put us comfortably ahead. Blaming the defence is one thing but their second goal was the product of the forwards not putting the game to bed earlier. Despite being McCarthy's critic for weeks I have to say he looked like a different player yesterday, making a couple of decent saves and actually coming off his line for crosses. Yes, we still need to sign a 'keeper but can probably wait and not panic buy. I too am hoping Lyanco can be the new defensive star and leader that we all want, but in the meantime let's be honest and admit that the much maligned Redmond unlocked their defence twice to get us a point. And, lastly, let's be grateful that we don't have a manager like Steve Bruce, who admitted it was a penalty but blamed VAR for giving it, what a jerk.

davidargyll added 11:27 - Aug 29
Another pulsating game and in the end I think a fair if hard-fought result.
Our recent games have all shown the benefit of having , fit and above all keen and never-say-die youngsters in the line up. Yes we struggled to put the ball in the net but I am convinced with 22 shots on target we are moving in the right direction and that will come. And frankly even the best of teams sometimes have most possession and most shots but fail to take advantage. At least we are shooting and on target (mostly!) which is a real improvement. However once again we were asleep at the wheel at the beginning of the second half - we must do something about this as opposition teams are clearly starting to see this pattern and surely better squads than Newcastle will capitalise on this more.
On individuals, the only two I was nervous about were Salisu, who I felt was almost too hungry to get and keep the ball and on a couple of occasions risked leaving us very exposed; and Diallo who, I was under the impression, was responsible for giving the ball away - and being too far up the pitch when he did - which led to the second Newcastle goal.
Those two aside, the positives were Redmond, whose ball skills made the first goal, and McCarthy who undoubtedly kept us in the game on at least two occasions. But everybody played well and most importantly played for the team as if their lives depended on it, particularly when defending. Yes we cocked it up for the goals but we didn’t let that get us down.
Next game against the league leaders though will be a tougher test I fancy…
(PS. Let’s hope the performances so far this season will now start to quieten the”Ralph out” moaners).

SalisburySaint added 11:38 - Aug 29
I don’t think defence was the problem yesterday, we only generally had problems from Newcastle yesterday on the break, often from poor passses from our team which left the defence exposed.

In attack for all our possession our final ball was often poor, and we didn’t get to the bi-line enough, when we did like with Redmond for first goal we caused problems

Still need to improve but promising signs from team as a whole yesterday

schatfield added 11:42 - Aug 29
Does this mean we can expect to see a Gary Cahill article before Tuesday?

UgandaSaint added 12:11 - Aug 29
According to the stream that I was watching, Mike Reid the video ref took the view that it was not a penalty but the ref should review it. It was the ref that made the decision to give the penalty, fair play to him for ignoring Mike "I hate Saints" Reid.

Boris1977 added 12:22 - Aug 29
'.........really should have won comfortably but didn't due to poor finishing and poor defending,.....'

How many times have you written this line over the past 3 seasons or so nick. For their second goal at Maxine was standing on the 6 yard line for 7 seconds totally unmarked. Sunday morning defending.

I like Ralph but just wish he'd keep things simple and play the players in their bespoke positions and play the best 11 available. His outside of the box selections are not genius they are foolhardy and will land us in yet another relegation battle.


underweststand added 12:24 - Aug 29
Surely a game that should have been put to bed in the first half.
Over 60 % possession and a dozen shots denied only by a packed Newcastle defence.
As usual - we couldn't sustain that style of play in the second half, but a good recovery with a goal by Elyounoussi that goes a long way to making him a good squad player after his two seasons in Scotland.
Tino a stand-out player - again - and even KWP seemed to thrive on the left side.
Shows that we have players with a bit of versatility in the team.

Even if Adam A. didn't score against Newcastle, his tireless running did win us a penalty and up came Captain Prowsey to slot home a good penalty kick and rescue a point, but
we really ought to have tied it up before half time.

ElijahK added 13:26 - Aug 29
Well what Ralph did yesterday is prove all the haters wrong as his tactics, subs and starting 11 (bar maybe starting Redmond/Tella over Djenpo) was exactly what we all wanted/expected. McCarthy and most of our other Eden sets were also really decent today as was our strike force who creating soo many chances of such. But two players that let us down was Romeu, which is unusual for him, as his passing was pretty poor yetserday and kept giving away the ball loads. And Djenpo is just the same as usual as he creates soo many great chances but can never finish them, hence why I think he should be used more as a sub this season rather than in the starting lineup.

Still one great thing to see was that Mike Dean could actually use VAR correctly with us for once!

saintmark1976 added 14:14 - Aug 29
Fair and balanced report Nick.

Points wise the same old same old I am afraid. Three games into the new season and already we have dropped five points from winning positions although obviously that wasn’t the case yesterday.

Saint Maxim is some player and will score goals against better teams than us, why on earth is he wasting his time playing for Steve Bruce’s Newcastle?

Fair play to Redmond yesterday, perhaps that’s his future with us as a substitute rather than a starter? Also credit to J W P, he certainly earned his £100,000 this week with that penalty.


Saidou added 15:25 - Aug 29
This game is a clear indication of why we will struggle massively this season and it won't be due to our defensive fatalities. We just can't finish off chances and all we do is press, press, press until we run out of fuel. It's no wonder we keep conceding so many late goals.

felly1 added 15:50 - Aug 29
A decent game yesterday, the usual roller-coaster ride with Saints!
Two lower Prem teams, where Saints had the edge in terms of overall quality but Newcastle had the most dangerous player in St Maximin.
They clearly were playing a counter attacking game, packing the defence making it hard for our possession to count whilst waiting to pounce on the break.
Pleased for Redmond who showed composure when it mattered with two assists and Mccarthy for a great stop in the first half. Livramento and Salisu had good games, whilst the rest of the team put in a shift.
Will Lycanco improve the defence?
Let's hope so but 6.5 million tells you he will be average at best unless our recruitment team have unearthed a gem.


SaintPaulVW added 20:45 - Aug 29
Another good Substitution, another point in the bank.

One thing we need to work on is distributing the ball faster after a goal kick. We now have some really fast and very direct players. We need to make the most of this advantage. We always get bogged down when sides reset and end up either with poor final balls or attacks going backwards. Getting the ball out quicker and into space should give us better opportunities.

Newcastle were clearly aware of this threat because they got in McCarthy's face at every opportunity to delay the ball.

We now have the players to mix things up a bit. We just need to make full use of them.


Colburn added 02:03 - Aug 30
Last week Stephens was a beast against Utd and created the goal out of sheer determination and a quality pass to Djenepo. He was immense and I didn't see you writing that he had proved his doubters wrong. I even read something trying to point out one mistake he allegedly made.. This week Redmond did indeed make the difference with two excellent pieces of play and I can recognise that as one of his bigger critics over the last couple of years and agree that it is good to see this positive response from a player who, for two years, became too comfortable in his assumption of an automatic starting place. But, well done Redmond for two excellent end products which effectively won us the point, I would be happy to see this type of display every week from him but he must work as hard as others off the ball to regain his starting spot for me. Maybe supersub is his niche. Djenepo missed a sitter but the fact he is getting into these positions bodes well. He works hard and deserves his run, his goals will come if he keeps doing the same. It takes time to create partnerships all over the pitch and so far, the signs are better than I expected and last year we would have lost this game after failing to take advantage of the first half dominance. Small does indeed look fabulous and could be knocking on the first team door by Xmas, that looks as good as the Livramento piece of business. Well done Moi for finally getting his PL goal, not a bad addition to the squad this year, looks stronger.
Please be more fair in the praise and criticism of players. Perhaps in your next article, you can outline what it will take for Stephens to prove you wrong? 5 clean sheets on the bounce, 8 out of 10? Come on Nick, what will it take? I think you have already made your judgement and nothing he can do will change it.

SanMarco added 11:05 - Aug 30
Another mixed emotion afternoon with the good old Saints. I think the tired old "whose fault defence or attack?" question has to have the answer BOTH. We struggled to break down an ultra-defensive and very poor Newcastle in the first half and then paid the price with poor defending in the second. We sold our main goal scorer and have to hope that his replacement will be up to the job - too early to tell I would say. In defence it did feel like 'same old' to me. Too early for doom and gloom verdicts - we looked good for most the game. Better attacking in the first half and we have it won by HT, better defending in the second and we probably win it 1 or 2 nil,

I am pleased at the Redmond comments. I reluctantly tend to agree with what I think is the majority who feel he doesn't offer enough but those were two match changing/saving contributions on Saturday.

Peterx added 17:02 - Aug 31
Much better than last season when we could not break down 9 with 11. Progress.

KriSaint added 12:30 - Sep 5

Thank you very much for pointing this out! I was going to myself.
I have the actual audio downloaded on my phone - as proof that Mike Dean (not Reid) does indeed NOT like us Saints. (Hate is such a strong word, but yeah, he does probably hate us). Here are the exact words that Mike Dean - watching the game in some official role? - said on a direct line to the head phones of Rob Green and his fellow match commentator of N'Castle - Saints, AFTER the incident had been shown in slow motion several times:
"Lascelles did a genuine attempt to get the ball".....

THE most obvious VAR decision of the season as Lascelles CLEARLY got the MAN (Armstrong), NOT the BALL.
And Mike DEAN said THAT?????????

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