Stacks Image p984706_n984467

Southampton 1

•  Lambert 43

Carlisle 0

I took my pre match tour party, Property Developers Rymill, down the tunnel out in to the stadium bathed in glorious sunshine, the pitch looked good, we had just spoken with a very bright and happy Nigel Adkins and the scene was set for a great afternoon of football. Come kick off it was a little less bright and there was a distinct chill in the air as the clouds blotted out the sun. The same could be said about the game, the referee wanted to claim the limelight from the sun and the game became clouded and dull. Referees should never seek to influence a game, this one did. He loved the limelight and seemed drunk with power.

Saints started with Kelvin Davis retaining the 'keepers jersey even though there were some who thought Bialowski should get his chance after the 4 goals conceded at Peterborough. Butterfield, Fonte, Jaidi and Harding made up the back four, Chaplow and Hammond took the central midfield position with Chamberlain restored to wide right with N'Guessan wide left. Guly and Lambert were the two strikers. The bench was made up of Bialowski, Richardson, Barnard, Forte, Gobern, Seaborne and Lallana.

Saints started kicking towards the Northam End as the cloud cover came in blotting out the sun. Not many Carlisle fans had made the long trip south but it looked a big crowd. Saints looked a bit edgy, our passing game went missing and it was not long before Nigel Adkins was out on the line berating and cajoling his team. Butterfield at right back looked in control of his game and he showed good vision when making some great long cross field passes, but few clear cut chances came our way. Chamberlain was menacing and it was not long before he was halted in full flight resulting in a yellow card for the visiting right back. A bit harsh I thought as it was not a bad tackle. It was to prove costly though, but not because we scored from the free kick. More on that later.

One good move in this half saw Lambert have a good chance but he dragged his shot well wide. We had several free kicks around their penalty area but instead of Lambert taking them all and shooting, we saw a couple on innovative free kicks and even Guly taking one in what has always been 'Lambert territory.' Gully got the ball up and over the wall and it had good pace but went just went wide. Great effort. The first saints player to get booked was Richard Chaplow, I have no idea what he thought he was doing, he had already seen how fussy this ref was but he lunged in on one of their players on the half way line right in front of the referee, it was a stupid lunge and there was no need with the play being on the half way line. He got a yellow.

The game was drifting towards a stalemate near to half time when Chamberlain again got away down the right touchline just inside their half, he was blatantly hauled back by the same full back who had previously been booked for fouling him. The referee rightly blew for a foul but did not instantly reach for his cards but after the defender heatedly pleaded innocence the second yellow and the red cards came out. He was off. Whether for the second foul or what he said is anyones guess.

This changed the game as saints had been contained and frustrated but now with about five minutes to half time we saw our opponents reduced to ten men. Nothing came of the free kick but a couple of minutes later Chamberlains tenacity paid off as he fought for a ball in tussle on the edge of their area, won it, and chipped a delightful ball on to the head of Rickie Lambert who headed home from close range. Cue rock the baby celebrations as the team celebrated the birth of a baby to Rickie and his wife yesterday. A lot of credit goes to Alex Chamberlain - for the goal not the new baby!

Half time came and the Carlisle bench were fuming and obviously the ref came in for some stick for some of his decisions. Their Manager did not reappear for the start of the second half, sent off in the tunnel I heard.

Saints made a change at half time, Adam Lallana coming on to a huge roar of approval from saints fans. He replaced Chaplow, maybe because NA thought this ref was the sort to even things up or maybe he was punishing Chaplow for being so silly in getting booked. Not that Chaplow had been at his best in the first half, but neither had several other players. Saints passing improved a bit as you would expect against ten men, but we could not add to our score. Lallana slotted in to central midfield.
The Carlisle keeper was a big guy and he brought of some good saves and dominated his area, his major weakness was his dead ball kicking. But in truth we did not carve out too many chances. As the clock ticked away there was always the thought that the one goal might not be enough.

There was one scare for Saints when a huge clearance from the Carlisle keeper reached the centre of our goal mouth, it was heart in mouth time as even though it looked to be KD's ball from where I was ( a long way away) but he stayed on his line and Fonte had to make a last minute headed clearance over his own goal line. Words were exchanged. This lack of communication between Davis and Fonte is becoming a regular occurrence! Fonte also took a bad knock from what looked a very bad tackle in this second half but he made a miraculous recovery so maybe not as bad as he made out!

N'Guessan, playing wide left, who i understand had a good game at Exeter, seemed affected by missing a golden chance to score in the first half, he was not looking at all confident on the ball and his crossing was poor. With 20 minutes to go he was substituted, sadly to the applause of some morons. That will do his confidence a lot of good! Forte came on and he looked lively but here was still no comfort of the second goal for Saints.

Next player to go off was Lambert who did not look too pleased, but NA put his arm around him and presumably explained his decision. Barnard came on to replace RL. Their centre half was a giant of a man so maybe NA thought Barnard could give him a run around on the ground. Whatever, it did not work and Barney did not get much of a sniff. Four minutes of time added on made saints fans a bit fidgety but we saw them out and a huge cheer of relief greeted the final whistle. Our team did not look elated by their victory and I suspect they were unhappy at their collective performance against ten men. But once it sinks in that they won they will chirp up.

The positives from this game were, in my humble opinion, Lallana making a return to the squad and getting a run out, slightly rusty but he looked like the quality player he is, always finding space and using the ball intelligently.. Chamberlain looking much more of a threat out wide, and working hard for 90 minutes, Hammond taking control and working hard, he had a very good game, Guly working his socks of and sharing defensive duties and a good display from Butterfield. A clean sheet and RIckie's 50th goal for saints in just a season and a half. All positives. Otherwise much room for improvement.

This team though without Chamberlain and Lallana would be very ordinary. Thank heaven we hung on to them.

N'guessan and Forte have a lot of work to do on the training ground and maybe, just maybe, Kelvin needs to have a rest. Trouble is I am not convinced that Bialowski is the answer and KD kept a clean sheet. Not much to do though due to a good defensive display.

I also noted that work had been put in on set pieces at staplewood, they did not quite come off today but less predictability at set pieces must be good, harder to defend against. I detected too that we defended more as a team with Chamberlain and Gully in particular racing back to support the defence when ever a move broke down.

The referee did not help the game, he looked fussy, even looked happy to pull out his cards and upset both teams, but don't blame him for our lack luster display, Nigel was obviously angry at certain aspects of saints play today and kicked a ball away in anger at the final whistle. He might make them go to the 125th anniversary gig as punishment! -:)

But there was no lack of effort from saints today, we just did not get to grips with the game and we missed Chaplow's box to box running, he was off the boil in the first half and off the pitch in the second.

That's how I saw it anyway.



Saturday, 12 February 2011
Ref: Lewis

01 Davis
03 Harding
05 Jaidi
06 Fonte
12 Butterfield
14 Hammond
26 Oxlade-Chamberlain
30 Chaplow - yellow card (Lallana 46)
32 N'Guessan (Forte 79)
07 Lambert (Barnard 76 - yellow card)
11 Guly - yellow card

24 Bialkowski
02 Richardson
19 Seaborne
20 Lallana
27 Gobern
08 Forte
09 Barnard

01 Collin
02 Simek
06 Murphy
16 Borrowdale - two yellow cards, red card
25 Michalik - yellow card
12 Taiwo - yellow card
14 Marshall
17 Noble - yellow card (Wells 70)
21 Berrett
13 Zoko (Curran 77)
18 Loy (Robson 44)

23 Caig
05 Livesey
10 Robson
33 Gbarssin
15 Curran
19 Madden
29 Wells