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Southampton 2

• Barnard 53
• Guly 88

Blackpool 0

I'm a bit late with my usual report for overseas fans and those not able to get to the game, been celebrating my wife's birthday with all the family.

Some surprises on saints team, 8 changes from the team that started at Dagenham & Redbridge for our last game, but I suspect all the media will concentrate on the fact that Blackpool had 9 changes. It was still a strongish Blackpool team and the youth players he keeps on about were on the Bench. So in effect it was a League One weakened side versus a Premiership weakened side. Puncheon was a surprise selection for saints, and Aaron Martin started for the first time since joining from non league side Eastliegh.

So it was Bart in goal,( for only his second game of the season) Richardson, Martin, Seaborne, and Harding were the back four. Puncheon, Hammond , Schneiderlin, and Lallana midfield. Lambert and Barnard up front.

Subs were Forecast! Dickson, Fonte, Guly Do Prado, Chamberlain, Connolly and Gobern. So two teenagers on our bench! Blackpool had ex saints Ormerod and Euell in their line up, with the latter the skipper.

Euell won the toss and we were asked to kick towards the Chapel End in the first half. Not a bad crowd, there were fans sat in all four sides of the ground with the corners empty, so with a tidy few from Blackpool fans down as well it made for a good atmosphere. Hospitality did well, we had nearly 900 people taking it up, just 600 short of the maximum we used to get in the Premiership days.

It looked as though we were playing a narrower formation than usual with Puncheon and Lallana tucked in a bit, allowing Richardson and Barnard more freedom to get down the line. Saints had most of the first 20 minutes and should have scored, especially Adam Lallana who had several attempts on goal, but he could not get a clear strike on goal and their keeper, who was in a fluorescent shirt and matching shorts, looking as if he was working for *Dyna rod, was in good form.

Lambert went close with an effort that rattled the cross bar and so too Lallana. Barnard was all energy and put pressure on their keeper who looked a bit rattled at times but made some good saves. Bialowski in saints goal was virtually untroubled in this first half. I thought the ref was being a bit fussy and both our central defenders picked up yellow cards, it was cup tie after all and tradition is that teams get stuck in.

Half time came wit the score at 0-0 but it was an unfair reflection on the game, we had enough pressure and chances to have been two up. Blackpool never really got a foothold in this first half.

No changes second half and again saints were on the front foot and it was not long before we got the goal our attacking play deserved. Lambert, who had been doing a lot of good work cut in from the left and hit a powerful shot that their 'keeper got a hand to but it came out to the ever alert Barnard, who seemed to take ages in setting himself, before firing home the ball from around the penalty spot.

This lifted an already lively crowd and both teams tried to up the tempo and Blackpool had some moments where they might have pulled a goal back, notably when Bialowski made a great finger tip save from a very hard hit shot. This was his first real save of the game, in the first half he just had a few occasions where he came off his line to pluck a few high balls out of the air, but he was alert enough to make this save.
Ian Holloway was getting agitated down in front of me ( i was just behind the dug out today, great view of the game) and he made a couple of changes, one being Brett Ormerod coming off. The hard working Brett received a great round of applause from saints fans, he responded by acknowledging the applause from all around the ground. Saints fans appreciate players who give of their best and Brett always gave 100% for us when he was with us.

Saints first change came after an half an hour of this second half. Hammond had been struggling since half time and I could see saints trainer coming to the edge of the pitch to talk to him a couple of times and eventually Hammond signaled to come off and he was replaced by Ryan Dickson. Saints were still in control of the game in midfield where Morgan Schneiderlin was having a blinder. He looked a class above anything Blackpool had and was running the game. Puncheon too was playing as well as I have seen him and he looked comfortable in his midfield role alongside Schneiderlin.

It seemed as though the visitors were running out of ideas and saints next change was Guly on for Lallana. Adam had been limping after a nasty looking tackle on him which went unpunished and as you might expect he had a standing ovation from all around the ground as he came off. This was with about ten minutes to go. Guly slotted in to his midfield role just behind Lambert and Barnard. He looked hungry and was soon in the thick of things and when Lambert again came in from the left and passed across goal, Dickson dummied to allow the ball to reach Guly and the Brazilian almost burst the net with a super strike. Holloway, who was dressed like an undertaker in a dark suit and a dark overcoat with a black velvet collar, must have know then that his team was dead and buried!

So they were, saints last sub was with about 5 minutes to go with Chamberlain coming on in place of Barnard who as usual had given his all. Blackpool huffed and puffed but our makeshift central defensive pairing held their line and saw the game out but not before Chamberlain burst through after a delightful pass had put him clear of the defence, he went for glory but hit the near post with, I think it was Puncheon, making a great run to catch up with play down the middle, waiting for a pass that would surely have resulted in a third goal. Final whistle - 2 - 0 and it could and should have been more, but another clean sheet with arguably our second string back four and reserve goalie, and two goals, who is going to complain.

It was yet another entertaining game with both teams wanting to win, neither wanted a draw. My man of the match was Schneiderlin. Lallana would have shaded it had he scored the couple of goals that he might well have done, but it did not quite click for him in front of goal, maybe he was trying to hard to justify his new contract! Puncheon also played well and I thought Dickson was excellent when he came on. Bart made one great save but flapped at one in the second half and seemed a little nervous afterwards and his kicking was not good.

But overall we were the better side and deserved to go in the hat for tomorrow. I just hope Hammond and Lallana are not doubtful for Tuesday. I suspect Hammond will be the biggest doubt, he looked in pain as he came off.

Someone must have had a word with the ref at half time because he was a bit more sensible in the second half and did not make any important mistakes.

* Dyna Rod is a UK drain cleaning company noted for their bright working gear and luminous vans.



Saturday, 8 January 2011
Ref: Danny McDermid

24 Bialkowski
02 Richardson - yellow card
03 Harding
17 Martin - yellow card
19 Seaborne
04 Schneiderlin
10 Puncheon
14 Hammond (Dickson 61)
20 Lallana (Guly 79)
07 Lambert
09 Barnard (Oxlade-Chamberlain 84)

23 Forecast
05 Dickson
06 Fonte
11 Guly
26 Oxlade-Chamberlain
27 Gobern
22 Connolly

01 Rachubka
05 Eardley (Francis-Reynolds 65)
15 Baptiste - yellow card
24 Edwards
31 Keinan
04 Southern
19 Sylvestre
23 Phillips
34 Tomsett - yellow card (Barkhuizen 56)
10 Ormerod (Roberts 76)
18 Euell

13 Halstead
33 Roberts
35 Younda
36 Francis-Reynolds
37 Dodd
40 Jobe
32 Barkhuizen