Please log in or register. Registered visitors get fewer ads.
Southampton V West Bromwich Albion The Verdict
Sunday, 12th Nov 2023 11:26

It was a game where Saints had to did in and weather the storm in the second half, but they passed another test of character to go on and win the game after the Baggies got up a head of steam.

There were no real surprises in the starting line up, just the one change with Mason Holgate coming in for the suspended Jan Bednarek and the loanee from Everton would slot it seamlessly at the back and play a big part in what would be an eventual victory.

Before the game could start though there was a moving tribute for Remembrance weekend and the last post and minutes silence was impeccably observed by both home and away supporters.

The game couldn't have started better for Saints. Adam Armstrong saw his shot well saved by the keeper and Will Smallbone swept in the rebound with all eyes on the referee as a defender cleared the ball from what was well behind the line.

So a 1-0 lead in only the 5th minute gave Saints a great foundation to build on and the first half saw the home side dominating and sweeping forward, however there would be no second goal in what would eventually be a game than saw very few actual attempts on target, I cannot remember the West Brom keeper making a save of note after his initial block in the run up to Smallbones goal and the only one that Gavin Bazunu had to save other than the goal was late on when he blocked from close range with the Baggies pushing for a late equaliser.

But if Saints fans thought that it would be pretty much the same as the first would be mistaken, the visitors came out with a renewed spirit and they were pushing Saints back, running at them and putting crosses into the box.

In the main Saints dealt with it well, Mason Holgate was named man of the match by the sponsor and he had a good case for that award, he has not enjoyed a great start to his time at St Mary's, but he showed that he has the quality that we will need during a long season, Russell Martin will have to think long and hard about his back four next time out, Jan Bednarek was in fine form before his suspension, he should perhaps deserve his place back, but great to see we have rivals for the position if his standards should drop.

But West Brom's pressure paid off in the 65th minute, Mason Holgate headed over his own bar to defend another dangerous cross and although the resulting corner was cleared when the ball came back in Bartley scuffed the ball home from close range after it had rebounded off the bar.

In the build up to the goal Russell Martin was about to make a triple change and he did so straight after the goal.

But now Saints looked in trouble, West Brom poured forward but a header than skimmed the top of our bar was the best they could muster as the home side gritted their teeth, dug in and held firm.

As the game approached the last ten minutes you could see only one winner and it wasn't the men in red, but the storm had been weathered and a draw looked the most likely result.

However we were now getting more of the ball and we worked it to the left wing and Ryan Fraser put in a great cross which skimmed off a West Brom head and fell to Adam Armstrong at the far post, he didn't snatch at it, he controlled it and then fired home from close range for what would be the winner.

So with the game now back in our favour came a strange substitution from Russell Martin, off went Adam Armstrong who is perhaps the one player you want to keep on in the final minutes for his non stop running and work rate and on came Ross Stewart, I can understand why the manager would want to get Stewart on and get game time under his belt, but this wasn't the substitution that we needed.

We were winning the game, we needed to close it out and we brought Stewart on and played him out of position on the wing, in truth if he was to get the striker on he was limited on options, against Birmingham with the game poised at 2-1 the manager took off Alcaraz and brought on Joe Aribo to add strength to the midfield, with Downes and Smallbone off the field by the 67th minute, this surely would seem to be the obvious move.

But although there was one late scare with Bazunu having to act quickly to block from close range, we stayed firm and took all three points.

Although this wasn't a perfect game, it didn't go to the script, the fact was it was a test of our resolve, did we have the bottle and spirit to keep going when the chips were down, we couldn't get our possession game going in the second half, so we had to adapt and in the main we did and reaped the rewards.

Did we deserve to win the game ? yes from the perspective that we never gave up and made our chance and took it when it came, would i have felt aggrieved if I was a West Brom fan, yes absolutely, this was a fairly even game overall, a draw would have been a fair result, but the Baggies had dominate the second half.

The proof of a good side chasing promotion is the ability to dig out results like this one, win games when you have not played particularly well and that is a real plus point.

Another plus point was the quality we had, as I have often said, this is what will distinguish us from our rivals, this was the case that with Jan Bednarek, one of our best players of the last month or so suspended, we had Mason Holgate to step in, proven Premier League quality.

Off the bench we had the likes of Ryan Frazer, Che Adams and Shea Adams when changes needed to be made.

This was a true team effort, everyone did their job, it is hard to single anyone out for real praise, but then again there is no one who could be singled out for criticism.

This was a game when we just kept going and in doing so, started to put daylight between ourselves and those outside the top six, West Brom would have been above us if they had won, but they are now in 7th and 4 points behind.

Indeed it was a good week for us, we saw Leicester again lose, we saw Ipswich drop points, although sadly not yesterday and now both are with 9 points of our reach.

The season is now starting to sort out the wheat from the chafe and after it reconvenes after the International break as games come thick and fast we will see who has the quality and indeed the quality to keep going.

So another good win for Saints our third in a row in the space of a week, hopefully this will stop the knockers and get people behind the manager and indeed ALL the players, of course we all have our favourites, but we should support them, abusing our own players as someone who sits a few rows behind me does every week very loudly is not support, it helps no one.

There will be dodgy periods, both in games themselves as happened on Saturday when we had to dig in and in terms of the season, as Leicester & Ipswich have found out this week.

Again it was great to leave St Mary's happy, the buzz that winning gives you should always be enjoyed, sometimes it is the satisfaction of a comprehensive win, but at other times as it was yesterday, the satisfaction of showing that we can still win when the chips are down and we are not dominating.

Card Count

Holgate - Yellow
Downes - Yellow
Alcaraz - Yellow

Photo: Action Images

Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.

silverspringsaint added 12:05 - Nov 12
Great result. Team is humming along nicely and showing the fortitude to eke out wins against tough opposition. Shout out to Russell Martin and the impact he has had. To think that many on Tia site had written him off before a ball had been kicked this season. Always seemed a bit premature to me! COYR

felly1 added 12:40 - Nov 12
Great result and a decent performance.
We missed Smallbone when he went off and conceded control of the midfield to a big , strong side .
The only player who disappoints me is Sulemana, he should be getting on the scoresheet and creating more with his pace.
Blimey where have all the frothers n foamers and the moaners n groaners gone?
Come and enjoy the party lads!!


halftimeorange added 13:00 - Nov 12
I didn't get the bizarre substitution of Fraser for Smallbone, surely Charles should've come on but, hey-ho, Fraser eventually did his bit with the cross for our winner. There were some really good performances yesterday. Any one of Downes, Walker-Peters, Harwood-Bellis or , particularly, Alcaraz who broke up WBA attacks time after time however, Holgate will only draw confidence from being named Saints MotM. I'm still not convinced by Bazanu's short passes but, he semed more commanding in his area and the cameo from Stewart was encouraging. The only downside was Sulemana who appeared to freeze instead of beating his man although, to be fair, he often had three defenders on him. All in all a decent performance.

Ifonly added 13:25 - Nov 12
Mason Holgate isn't "proven Premier League quality". He failed at PL level. Everton moved him to right back and he didn't do too well there either. Good to see him do well yesterday but let's remember this is the Championship, not the PL.

All in all a good win. Ever since RM changed the style to be less tippy tappy and suicidal we've done well. Long may it continue. Playing like this we should certainly get a play off place and if Stewart adds another dimension to our game, we might do even better.

JoeEgg added 13:54 - Nov 12
"The proof of a good side chasing promotion is the ability to dig out results like this one, "

The proof of a VERY good side chasing promotion, is the ability just occasionally to skin the opposition and win convincingly!

West Brom were physically a stronger side than us, and if you are honest they deserved at least a point from the contest. Our defence is improving but once again the 'crossbar' had an outstanding and influential game! Our Achilles heal remains the excessive number of set pieces and corners that we seem to concede - sometimes needlessly.. Every time Albion took a corner our goal looked in real danger.
I agree too that Sulemana's failure to produce a worthwhile end product is most frustrating and difficult to explain fully.
However the ability of our team to weather a storm, finish a game strongly and somehow rescue the points, are proving our salvation and the most obvious positive achievement so far under Russell Martin.

davidargyll added 14:19 - Nov 12
Exciting game and good result.
1. The players now seem to be playing tippy tappy a lot better and with more confidence than earlier in the season. Still causes a few missed heartbeats but they do seem to be doing ok
2. Only two clean sheets so far this season. We must do better.
3. When the Baggies made 4 subs in one go, surely this unsettled their formation and I reckon helped us to keep them out.
4. I think our defending of corners is hugely improved, they ate now much more methodical, they do seem to know how to line up and then precisely what they need to do Thank God.
5. Despite his dodgy new haircut I’m almost starting to quite like RM…!! (I thought I’d never get to say that only a couple of months ago…)

SanMarco added 14:39 - Nov 12
Those that don't see it quite like you haven't gone away Felly - I am delighted with the good run and the three points yesterday but my critical facilities haven't been erased. I can't say I feel elated with the way we are playing over the whole 90 mins in most games. Winning late (and when the other lot deserve a point) is a great habit but a better one is to be putting teams to the sword on a reasonably regular basis and outplaying them. WBA will be top 8 this season and, for this league, are a reasonable side, but did we look better than them overall?

Don't get me wrong - I am certainly pleased with the areas of gradual improvement but I am not crowing loudly just yet. 3 or 4-0 at Huddersfield SHOULD be more likely than a 2-1 win with a goal deep in injury-time but I wouldn't bet on it yet.

Bowlercow added 14:43 - Nov 12
The first time I think that we have had to grind out a result WBA looked like a team who will be there or thereabouts come the final reckoning It was good to see that we do have it in our armory
The cameo by Stewart showed that he has a bit of pace and his height could be useful if he knows how to use it

SaintEPW added 15:29 - Nov 12
Reference Kamaldeen - and his end product. He is electric and attracts lots of attention from all defenders - he is hard to defend against. He is only 21 - and most of his playing career has been in Nigeria - he has played about 90 games total in European football ( France & Denmark) before coming here. Also he has not had the incredible coaching and training that young players now get in UK and Europe. It is going to take time. I'm happy he is playing for Saints and he is strong part of the non tippy- tappy parts of our new ways of playing.

DellBoyWally added 16:01 - Nov 12
I'm still not convinced. We are winning due to luck. And luck ain't eternal. If WBA had our luck yesterday we'd have lost 3 or 4-1.It'll stop for us soon!!
When we scored early, those around me yesterday started a sweep on the time of the equaliser!!
We only had 10 goal attempts at home! Not enough! And when we create chances we have to be more clinical. Che Adams isn't the answer. He has been poor for several games. Hopefully Ross Stewart will be the answer.
Agree with SanMarco. At Huddersfield we need to go there and pummel them: 4 goals minimum. And living "locally" I can leave happy and be home in time for tea instead of a near 6 hour drive home!!

IanRC added 16:07 - Nov 12
SaintEPW, quite agree, what many above missed apparently was that most of the time two of their players were marking him when he received the ball. Even if he wasn’t able to beat both he was effectively creating opportunities for others due to this. Still one of the first names on the team sheet for me.

ItchenNorth added 20:02 - Nov 12
THB for me was MOTM by a country mile. He puts his body on the line and wins a lot in the air, but giving it to Holgate (who played well) will give him lots of confidence, so it wasn't a bad pick at all.

Russ Stewart looked good when he came on. The only reason he went out wide was that Che Adams was on and he can't really play out there.

ElSanto added 20:42 - Nov 12
Taylor Maximus Harwoodius Bellius, our LEADER OF MEN - I salute you.

SaintNick added 22:44 - Nov 12
Itchen North, that was my point, with Che Adams on we already had a central striker on the field, I thought it was a gamble to play Ross Stewart out of position

SaintPaulVW added 09:39 - Nov 13
Think Stewart just needed a run out. Putting up front straight into a pressure position might have affected him if a chance came and he fluffed it. Out on the wing he can run about a bit, bit of an easier way to get a few minutes under his belt. Need him scoring in the run in, not necessarily now.

Think Stu Armstrong and Charly are 2 excellent attacking midfielders. Seem to be key players in all our serious chances.

The rehabilitation of Ryan Fraser also is a great story. Not sure we could afford to keep him but he's putting himself in the shop window for anyone with deep pockets.

Bit of competition at CB as well can only be good.

The Bree KWP team looks really good. Bree hanging back means KWP can do his usual attacks. Manning may have to get used to coming on off the bench.

Finally Bazunu - looks really suited to this style of play and his reaction saves are superb.

Great game of football and if we didn't quite deserve the win, then that makes up for some of the other games when things didn't quite go out way.

Enjoying watching Saints play good attacking football.


underweststand added 11:00 - Nov 13
Let's be honest, we weren't the best side over 90 minutes, and were better in the first half but through dogged persistence, got the result in the end. We have played a lot better.
I agree that THB was outstanding but would argue for Holgate's performance as he hardly put a foot wrong. RM admitted because of Stephens' injury he wrongly threw Holgate into the Sunderland game before he'd been introduced to some of his team mates.
He looked good but may have to wait for regular starts as soon as Bednarek is back.

Like Edozie.. Sulemana shows exciting episodes - when he has the ball at his feet, but is still on a learning curve, as are Charles and Downes to some degree. Bree looks a better choice than Manning - even at LB ..and anyone who will only credit Adam Armstrong as our leading scorer should watch him throughout the game as he pops up everywhere and can also defend well.
Hopefully we can hit the ground running after the international break , and having already played all the sides above and around us, have a long string of games against teams below us in the League which we must win if we are to challenge the top 3 clubs above us.


onetowatch added 12:33 - Nov 13
A great result, even though it was a tough one for WBA....a vast improvement, and I include RMs' performance in that...the defence including Bazanu now appear to be 'állowed' to go longer if they choose to. My only frustration is not starting with Charles, and my only criticism is that when Smallbone had to go off, why wasn't Charles brought on immediately? He performs well in tight situations, has a physical presence and has good distribution. We needed that ilk in the 2nd half.....

aceofthebase added 15:55 - Nov 13
It looked to me that in the first half, there was a reluctance to pass to Sulemana when he could have been more involved. I was not surprised when I saw that he had wandered into the centre. Give him the ball and let him attack.

You need to login in order to post your comments

Blogs 31 bloggers

Knees-up Mother Brown #22 by wessex_exile

Southampton Polls

About Us Contact Us Terms & Conditions Privacy Cookies Advertising
© FansNetwork 2024