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Southampton 2

• Guly 11
• Barnard 58

Charlton 0

Somehow writing a report the morning after a game does not quite have the same spontaneity. I have read what a couple of others thought of the game and read the O/S and Echo's reports, but will try do as I usually do - sit in front of my computer and relive the game in my mind and add the thoughts that went through my head whilst watching the game. As those who have sat by me at games will testify, I do not make handwritten notes, just mental notes, that is why I sometimes get facts wrong.

When I saw the team sheet I wondered how the changes might effect our team, the back four in particular. Two different full backs and a change in midfield. The team was Davis, Richardson, Jaidi, Fonte, and Dickson at the back. Midfield saw Gully, Hammond, Stevens and Lallana. Up front Barnard and Lambert. subs; Bialowski, Forte, Butterfield, Seaborne, Connolly, Gobern and Chaplow.

The player who did not seem to have a defined role in that starting eleven was Gully. He is not a wide player in my opinion and not a 'tackler' although he does track back at times and entwine his long legs around an opponent to win the ball. He has undoubted skills, a good touch, good in the air and scores goals. But I think he was the one square peg in a round hole last night. Not his fault.

Saints started the game moving the ball around, the crowd were in good voice and any game under floodlights seems to have that extra 'theatre' atmosphere. Lalanna was soon doing his tricks and Lambert, playing a bit deeper than Barnard, was using the ball well and it was no surprise when we scored early on, after ten minutes. It was Gully, the round peg, he popped up in the right hand channel and finished off a good passing movement with an assured strike, cooly netting after taking a good pass from Barnard to put him through on goal.

For the rest of the half we continued to play some good football and I thought Lambert was the fulcrum of many attacks as he seemed to be in a passing mood and I recall one sublime pass with the outside of his foot after he had killed the ball with his first touch. Anyone else notice his contribution in that first half? It was from a deeper role and I think he has much to offer apart from his goals.

Unlike Duncan, I thought Dale Stephens making his first start showed some good movement, Ok he is not the old head, experienced midfielder we perhaps needed but I thought he looked like a player, finding his feet in a new team and getting used to playing with new colleagues - like the new addition to the office staff or the work shop. Pity he got injured, it looked bad but I hope not, it was a very heavy tackle the 'done' him.

Half time came and we were well worth the one goal lead. It could have been more but the Charlton 'keeper, playing in a pink shirt, made some good saves and their defence snuffed our efforts out in and around the penalty area. The also had a spell in the game when they pushed us back a bit and could have scored but Fonte and Jaidi stood firm.

Stephens had been injured a couple of minutes before half time and Chaplow was the obvious replacement. Saints started again in an attacking mood, pressing for a second goal. There was a good tempo to the game, Lallana was giving their defence problems and often he seemed to have three opponents surrounding him when he had the ball, he is identified now as a target for the opposition. I recall in the first half he took three defenders out with one drop of his shoulders and a sublime pass forward. He did the same thing just down in front of us in the Itchen.

Saints calmed the nerves with a second deserved goal with half an hour to go, I remember some good build up play when we had a lot of players forward and I felt sure it was Gully who laid a good ball in to the feet of Barnard, who is in good nick at the moment and he cooly slotted the ball home. (the O/S report said it was a pass from Chaplow to Barnard)

So we were two nil up with thirty minutes to go as opposed to being two nil down at the same time on Saturday. There was an air of complacency from the crowd.
The Northam kept up their constant singing (well done to them) but with just a handful of Charlton fans, (300+ I believe) and a two goal cushion there was not so much excitement as on Saturday.

Lalanna pulled up worryingly, and it did not take long for NA to decide to bring him off and replace him with Oscar Gobern, we went to a solid 4-4-2 formation with Gully playing a bit more central.

Charlton had a good share of possession but they never looked likely to break down the barrier that was Fonte and Jaidi, behind them Davis was on his toes and often playing almost like a sweeper making some well judged dashes from his goal to clear up and through balls.

With ten minutes to go Guly was replaced by Connolly as NA tried to sniff out that much needed third goal. But saints saw out the game fairly comfortably. So three points, a clean sheet and 2 more goals to add to our impressive goal difference, which could be valuable if we tie on points in the final analysis.

I was happy, it was both teams second game in four days, there were some tired legs at the end but we showed top quality when it mattered at both ends of the pitch. KG had a confident game in goal, I thought Richardson and Dickson both showed they are excellent players and maybe just the bit fresher than the player they replaced at this time of the season. Dickson in particular had a storming game, getting forward to support the attack and defending when he had too. Fonte and Jaidi dominated the game at the back and free scoring Bradley Wright Phillips hardly got a look in.

Hammond and Stephens were beginning to gel before Stephens had to go off. Hammond was somewhat restricted by the thought that one more yellow would mean a two match suspension. I thought Chaplow was a bit more mobile than of late getting up and down the pitch well, but he makes some risky tackles.

Lallana was his usual bubbly self and head and shoulders above anyone else when id possession. He was starting to tire when he picked up his injury and I was pleased we were two goals to the good. Guly? Bit of an enigma, he was getting a lot of stick for his lack of closing down in the first half but his talent is not in tackling and I wish the crowd would realise he is being asked to play in many different roles for the good of the team. Wide right is not in my opinion his best role. He goal was a very cool piece of finishing, his ninth of the season, not bad for a player who has not started too often.

Up front I thought Lambert had a very good first half when his passing and laying off of the ball both in the air and on the ground was very good. He was not so effective in the second half. Barnard as usual worked hard and was often seen doing his fair share of defending from the front, and he took his goal well. His 14th of the season

Gobern, who had 30 minutes on the pitch, fitted in well in Lallana's role but was never going to be so effective never the less he did well, and as I have often said he is one of my tips for the future.

I must add that i was very impressed by the way we had bodies throwing themselves at ball and making blocks in the last ten minute when we had dropped deeper. There is a steely determination about this team.

The referee, as I expected had a good game, unfussy, kept his cards in his pocket, and controlled the game well, letting it flow. One bizzare moment in the second half was when the lino seemed to have fallen asleep, Lambert looked as if he was offside, Charlton appealed, the lino did nothing, then almost as an afterthought he put his flag up after Lambert had controlled the ball and laid it off, several seconds later. I bet he was the one who has seven kids! A bit late making a decision.

Well that is how I saw things, but of course my eyes are pretty old now! (great to meet up with several listtee's last night, some for the first time, always pleased when they recognise me. Good to see Malta saint Victor and his brother - great flag too. Look out for them and the flag at Leyton Orient on Saturday



Tuesday, 5 April 2011
Ref: Bates

01 Davis
02 Richardson
05 Dickson
06 Fonte
15 Jaidi
11 Guly (Connolly 79)
14 Hammond
20 Lallana (Gobern 60)
33 Stephens (Chaplow 45+2)
07 Lambert
09 Barnard

24 Bialkowski
12 Butterfield
19 Seaborne
27 Gobern
30 Chaplow
08 Forte
22 Connolly

01 Elliot
05 Llera
20 Solly
21 Bessone
36 Dailly
06 Semedo
07 Wagstaff
08 Racon
22 Parrett (Stewart 64)
10 Wright-Phillips (Eccleston 70)
17 Benson (Nouble 70 - yellow card)

38 Sullivan
02 Francis
12 Doherty
24 Fortune
14 Stewart
09 Nouble
39 Eccleston