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Huddersfield Town 1 v 1 Southampton
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 25th November 2023 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton At Huddersfield The Verdict
Monday, 27th Nov 2023 09:51

It was another game of two halves and one that saw too much complacency in the Saints team, leading to conceding a a late equaliser, that left us rueing a great chance to make up real ground on those above us.

Russell Martin made a couple of changes before taking his seat in the stands at the John Smith's Stadium, Jan Bednarek returned to the centre of the defence after suspension and Ryan Fraser came in for Charlie Alcatraz.

From the very start Saints looked comfortable and settled into their normal game, keeping the ball and looking for openings, the home side seemed content to sit back, battle hard and stop us creating any real chances.

Stuart Armstrong hitting a post was one, but it looked like we were going to go into the break still all square, Saints have made a habit of injury time goals of late, but this one was different in that it was in first half injury time, it was a case of two Armstrongs, Stuart Armstrong played a ball across the box, perhaps more in hope than anything else, but Adam Armstrong showed his pace off two yards and darted in front of a defender to steer the ball home.

This should have seen us take real charge in the second half, but in my opinion complacency had set in, not just on the pitch but in the stands as well, Saints had a lot of possession but rarely looked like either conceding or for that matter scoring, they seemed content to sit back and keep passing the ball, in the away section it seemed that the travelling support, magnificent at Hull & Millwall were also confident that we were just going to see this game out, there was not the usual noise we have been used to away from home this season.

As the half went on, Huddersfield started to come out of their shell, they knew that they had to try and get an equaliser, but they bided their time, they didn't initially pour forward in search of it and risk getting caught on the break, they waited.

As the game entered it's last 10 minutes we had made only one sub, Samuel Edozie on for the ineffectual Sulemana. In truth although Edozie didn't set the game alight, he still did more than Sulemana as he was more direct, Sulemana is a great talent with a lot of pace, but at the moment he lacks an end product, be that a killer cross or pass or shots on goal.

We looked in control, despite the home side going for it, we looked like we could handle it, so you have to question whether the 3 substitutions on 80 minutes was a little too much in one go.

It seemed to upset the balance of the side, unlike some who blamed Manning the moment the equaliser went in, I didn't think he was any worse than the rest, but 1-0 in the final stages it did seem strange to bring off a defensive player for a more attacking full back.

We should have been looking to see out the game at this point, either keep Bree on or if we needed fresh legs then Mason Holgate would have been a good option.

But it was not just there that the balance was upset, Shea Charles coming on in midfield for Stuart Armstrong was not a like for like player and up front we moved Adam Armstrong out wide to bring on Ross Stewart, I understand that we want to give him game time, but this was not the time to do it.

Huddersfield sensed that they could get something out of the game now and that we were disjointed, we had lost some of the discipline and we paid the price for it in the 87th minute.

In truth and having watched the replays, there is no one who can really be blamed for the goal, it was a good curling if a little hopeful cross that evaded everybody.

Suddenly Saints found some urgency and brought on Che Adams and strived to look for a winner, but we were now unbalanced, we lacked wide men to get the ball in and we had no one in midfield to play balls into the channels.

If there was one thing I noticed is that we still perhaps lack communication, we like to play to our central midfield players feet when they are facing their own goal, too many times they played the ball the way they were facing, when the opportunity was there to turn and run into space, that isn't the fault of Will Smallbone or Flynn Downes themselves, they are not being told that they have time.

This will perhaps improve in time, but it is a reason why we drop points against teams near the bottom, we have to find space going forward against resolute defensive and midfield lines, we have to do that by making that space ourself, at Huddersfield we failed to do that.

So a disappointing result in the end that felt like a defeat, but it wasn't it was our 9th game unbeaten and although we are still only in 4th place and not the 3rd a victory would have given us, we still picked up a point on Ipswich and that is a plus.

It could have and should have been a lot better at Huddersfield, we could have taken a big leap forward, but it's now gone and what matters now is Bristol City on Wednesday evening and then Cardiff City on Saturday, both at home, this is all that matters now, not what has gone whether it is dropping two points at Huddersfield or getting walloped at Sunderland.

So onwards & upwards, hopefully both the manager and indeed the players have learned from this game

Photo: Action Images

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Block8 added 10:26 - Nov 27
The difficult part for Sulemana is the fact that he had two men on him every time he had the ball, when he came off one of them pushed into midfield. So basically they sat very deep with a five man defence. This allowed us the space to play keep ball but not the room to play through them with any ease. The goal was well worked and the lead deserved. However we seem to sit and have a cup of Horlicks at half time because as appears normal recently we started the second half looking for our pipe and slippers!
Then they pushed their fifth defender into midfield, starving us of the room to play the little forward touches we like to play and where we are risk averse we don't seem to want to push balls between defenders for players to run through on? Walker Peters and Fraser had so much room out wide in the second half but were just not brought into the game. It was very disappointing after the first half was so easy for us but just proves that possession means nothing without an end product, and Ross Stewart may have got a lot of goals for Sunderland but we need to be a bit more adventurous going forward for him to repeat that for us.
I agree that we may have been a bit less enthusiastic as a crowd on Saturday but think that wasdown to the pace and momentum of the game?

underweststand added 10:33 - Nov 27
this game ..along with the Rotherham fiasco ..has cost the team 4 points ...which might make the difference when it comes reckoning points / goals in May.
A typical opposition goal to that in the Rotherham game - a chance shot that ended up beating everyone. Yet another game with very high possession stats. (78%) yet we still failed to convert good chances, and even Adam Armstrong's goal was a well-converted half-chance, whilst several other shots should have made the game safe in the first half.

10 games left upto January 1st. and Bristol City are the only opposition in the top half of the table at present. We need to consolidate ourselves in December whilst the top 3 clubs will play several other top 10 sides in the same period.
25 points would see us in a good position in January - any more slip-ups may prove fatal .

JoeEgg added 10:47 - Nov 27
"So onwards & upwards, hopefully both the manager and indeed the players have learned from this game"

I very much doubt it! Apparently we were "brilliant" in the 1st half according to our Russell! We had 80% possession and managed two shots on target. So 'No' we are not learning as almost every game reads the same. This was Huddersfield for goodness sake, a struggling team with key players absent injured, just hoping to survive the visit of the all-conquering Saints!
Defensively we are somewhat better now and progress has been made, although always vulnerable at set pieces - thankfully we didn't give away so many free kicks this time in dangerous areas - probably because Edozie only played for 10 minutes. Our midfield still lacks enterprise and creativity - except perhaps when facing their own goal. Even the goalkeeper seems to have been encouraged to play the ball out to defenders already closely marked - better teams will surely punish us for this. I believe the better Championship teams will overrun the Smallbone, Downes, Armstrong consortium, all 'journeyman' players at best who come nowhere near the quality needed to make quicke breaks and the defence-splitting passes that we became so accustomed to with Ward-Prowse on the team sheet.
With Bree doing well and Holgate worth another chance, I wonder if KWP could be moved up into the midfield. He will always make runs and provide the quality crosses and pull-backs which are sadly lacking at the moment. With KWP and Charley Alcaraz in the midfield I am sure we could turn our 80% possession into a more effective strike threat going forward.
Adam Armstrong has done well but none of the other forwards even threaten to provide the finished product. I have been a supporter of Sulemana - because he clearly has the ability to take on opponents - but how much longer can the manager wait to see a goal scored thanks to this players individual efforts and enterprise? So much now depends on the' Stewart factor' - if Ross Stewart is successful this could be a real game changer.

We have lost many players but its the loss of JWP that has been felt the most. He produced the pass that led to goal opportunities and split defences, and with his corners and free kicks he added so much to the goal threat of our team. We haven't come anywhere near to replacing him.
On the positive side I still feel that we have the players to provide more excitement, enterprise and success - Harwood Bellis, Alcaraz, KWP and Stewart for starters; and we dont have to be a boring team playing tippy tappy football and running up records for the number of passes successfully made. I just have my doubts that the Russell Martin style will ever get the best out of this squad, or that Martin is the right person to take us back to the Premier League.

HythePeer added 10:55 - Nov 27
KW-P needs to be pushed up to mid-field. He doesn't have the strength nor positional skills to defend the back post, it's a continual source of conceding.

IanRC added 11:30 - Nov 27
Disagree again Nick, as pointed out above, Sulemana occupied two defenders whilst he was on the pitch and dealt well defensively when he was called on. A real shame that he and Stewart were not on the pitch together as Edozie, despite being a wide player failed to deliver anything useful. No surprise for me that their goal came from the side Manning and Edozie were defending. That said I do think that Edozie has the ability to become an exceptional winger but for now I would much prefer to see Sulemana on the pitch.

Regarding the match itself it is baffling just how much we ease up if leading at half time. Is it the half time team talk or something else. As rightly pointed out above that is 4 easily winnable points surrendered so whilst there are some positive signs I am still not fully convinced that Russell is the right man for the job. Other top teams have a lot harder schedules up to new year than us so we really need to pile on the pressure and ensure we are in second position by New Year.

Centurion added 14:16 - Nov 27
A point away from home is never to be sniffed at. Progress is being made gradually.
We look good candidates for a play off finish and certainly a top 10 finish.
People need to be patient, I have always maintained that we need at least two seasons before we are ready for promotion.

Bowlercow added 14:20 - Nov 27
Let Bree play in his more natural RB position and push KWP up into a right sided mid field roll
Two problems solved KWP getting out jumped at the far post and speed of going forward down the right side at least
Stu A could the roam across the m/f as required

Bristol City on Wednesday If my memory serves me right they did the double over us last time we were in the championship

davidargyll added 14:58 - Nov 27
Whilst I’ve never been a fan of tippy tappy - because it requires skills that eg Man City have in abundance and we don’t - I’m the first to admit that recently we do seem to be playing it with more confidence. Or rather seemed. Until H2 against the Terriers that is.

As pointed out H1 was good, we played to our strengths, Huddersfield stood off us to a great extent and we got the reward on the stroke of half time.

But presumably after a bit of manager hair-dryer treatment at half time, Huddersfield came out at the beginning of H2 and immediately got in our faces and, surprise, surprise, we found it difficult to cope. And tbh, if they had better forwards and/or headers of the ball we could have been two or three down within 20 minutes. But our luck did hold for the most part, that is until the last few minutes and their goal, when it eventually came, was as virtually unstoppable as it was expected.

So in the circumstances, I think, on the balance of the entire 90 minutes, a point was as much as we deserved, even if some may feel it was two points dropped.

What now? A third of the season gone and I think we are in a position rather better than many of us doomsters feared we would be a few weeks back. But if we really are going to be pushing for promotion then surely what RM must do (more of?) in training is
1. Get the squad to practice moving the ball against in-your-face oppo: ie just the way MC do it…
2. For Christ’s sake start keeping some more clean sheets (only 2 so far) because if we don’t we will not get promoted, period.

saint901 added 15:38 - Nov 27
There is a disturbing lack of vision from the manager here.

He saw us fall into a lacklustre situation in the second half but his one change was arguably like for like and didn't improve things. After the game he was full of "not good enough" etc but he needs to think on his own inaction.

Once again however he is a victim of having no ability to reshape his tactics when the opposition chose or are forced to. If we are a goal up and showing no signs of getting another, by all means take off a player who is being double marked but either put on a speed merchant to threaten on the break or another midfield player to deny the opposition some space.

We failed to do that and paid the price.

Farlow added 15:58 - Nov 27
I hope Spurs do come in for Bazunu he is not good enough.I think they need to give Ross
Stewart more game time because we still look toothless up front.If he,d left Bree on
And kept Manning on the bench we would have won the game.

halftimeorange added 17:03 - Nov 27
I think RM knows what he wants to happen but, he can't make a side lacking a true playmaker deliver his philosophy. Our team also looked tired after the break which makes me wonder what happened in training during the international break. I can understand some players showing fatigue but, virtually the whole team? Also, Charlie Alcaraz gives us more of a threat and it would have been interesting to see just how much weariness he displayed. For those who think RM needs more than one season to get Saints up I would venture that those players who have the craft to achieve that goal won't be here in 24/25 if we don't make it first time.

SaintPaulVW added 22:53 - Nov 27
Just got to keep racking up points even when we don't play that well.



landsdownsaint added 08:14 - Nov 28
Opposing managers must say weather the storm first half & come out second & hit them hard first 10 mins while they try too get it going again , we are so predictable & good championship manager would win games like that with ease , we got very good players in that league & a manager who preparing them fir their next club

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