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Southampton 3

• Forte 66, 67
• Barnard 77

MKDons 2

• MacKenzie 34
• Baldock 52

Thought i might have to do this report from a hospital bed, such was my heart rate in the last five minute! This game had everything, it is days like this that has the adrenalin pumping. It was a nice spring afternoon and a pretty good crowd, although not many from MKD, surprising as they did not have far to come.

Saints made one enforced change from the starting line up at Charlton for our last game. Guly came in for the injured Chamberlain - I was pleased to see Lallana was fit enough to start. Changes on the subs bench though. It was Bialowski, Richardson, Forte, Martin, Seaborne, and newcomer Dale Stephens and a surprise return of David Connolly.

Saints won the toss and MKD kicked off towards the Chapel End. It was all saints for the first 20 minutes or so and our passing was better than of late but was largely long cross field passing, attacks fizzling out with poor decision making from our forwards. MKD had a couple of breakaways but neither 'keeper was really troubled.

The visitors then started to come more in to the game but it was slightly against the run of play when they scored. Jaidi headed a ball out for a corner when I thought he had no need too, but was not unduly worried as MKD had been out headed by our defenders from the kick off with Jaidi and Fonte well in command in the air. But when the corner came over someone failed to pick up their skipper Dean Lewington, not a tall player, and he headed home strongly.

Saints went to pieces for a while and our passing became poor, there was an air of disappointment in the crowd and the team got nervous. We had no balance, no width, Lallana and Guly were tucked in and we had a diamond shape. Lambert was hardly seen and Hammond was also missing out in midfield. Chaplow was chasing around but we had no control of the game. Good job Fonte and Jaidi were playing well. Butterfield and Harding were getting forward, going past the midfield, but crosses were over hit or too close to the 'keeper.

I was pleased to hear the half time whistle as I thought it would give NA chance to sort out what was going wrong. From my seat our problem was that the diamond formation was not working, we needed Lallana out wider on the left and the wide right need sorting. passes were going in to space on wings where there were no wingers.

To my surprise we did not seem to alter our shape at the start of the second half, nor alter any of the personnel. I must say we looked a bit sharper, and Lallana was looking good on the ball. But a quick breakaway by MKD saw their right sided player get free and he put over a great pass to the left hand side on the penalty area where the highly rated Sam Baldock scored an excellent goal.

So with just 10 minutes of the second half gone we had an uphill task and quite honestly it was obvious that this team and this shape was not going to turn things around. The crowd were unhappy.

Fortunately NA saw the same thing and with just half hour of the game to go Forte came on to replace Chaplow, this lifted the crowd and next on was our new lad Dale Stephens. The team suddenly had a better shape and some real width and once, Forte then scored with a neat finish to put us back in the game and the whole atmosphere changed.

Tails were up and within a couple of minutes the impressive Lallana played a good one two with Harding who had got ahead of him, Harding put over an excellent cross which the 'keeper could only parry out and Forte fired home again. Cue uproar all around the stadium, the crowd were up for it, the players were up for it, and it was all saints.
Tails were up and within a couple of minutes the impressive Lallana played a good one two with Harding who had got ahead of him, Harding put over an excellent cross which the 'keeper could only parry out and Forte fired home again. Cue uproar all around the stadium, the crowd were up for it, the players were up for it, and it was all saints.

Suddenly there was belief. It took almost another ten minutes for us to finally go in front but it was always going to happen, such was the desire and confidence which soared through the team. It was the tireless Barnard who got the winner and what a good goal is was, a pile driver of a left footer after he had raced on to a well timed through ball, from Rickie Lambert who had held the ball up to give Barnard the chance to make his run. The crowd were on their feet, what a transformation and how good to see such fight in our team at last.

MKD had not given up themselves, although they were looking a bit shell shocked. They pushed forward but our defence held firm and Kelvin Davis, although not having to make any real saves, cleared his lines well when under pressure. Adam Lallana, who was covering a lot of ground in this second half, made a superb jinking run, twisting his marker inside out before shooting narrowly wide of the far post. The lad looked shattered, remember he had been injured and not trained for a few days. But even by his standards he made an unbelievable run in 'time added on' that had everyone in the stand around me on their feet.

Our defence had been under a lot of pressure in those dying minutes and as the ball was cleared into space down the left young Adam set off in pursuit of the ball straining every muscle and sinew in his body in a gut wrenching burst. He reached the ball just before a defender and still had the composure to control the ball and skillfully draw a lunge from the defender to win a throw in. I don't think the ball left the corner of the field before the ref blew for time. Lallana put his hands on hips and looked fit to burst.

What a gutsy, skillful, whole hearted player he is. Brave too. My man of the match by a mile. Other good performances from Fonte, Jaidi, and maybe Harding and Butterfield who both covered a lot of ground up and down the wings in the first half. Davis did all that was asked of him and had no chance with goals, unless perhaps he might have come off his line for their first, but there were a lot of bodies in front of him.

Otherwise some below average performances from the likes of Hammond, Chaplow, Guly, (although he too had some good moments and he does tackle back well) and Lambert, who did not see as much of the ball as recently. Overall though the team had a very poor spell for about half an hour or more either side of half time

Forte did his impact job with two well taken goals, Stephens looked assured on the ball, and Richardson did nothing wrong at the back from what I could see during his short spell on the pitch.

The ref impressed me for much of the game, playing good advantage and allowing physical contact and not falling for any attempts to con him. Blotted his book a bit in the last ten minutes I thought but he stopped the game boiling over. Got all the important decision right.

But what an atmosphere in that last 15 minutes! Worth all the frustration of the first half. I have not seen a saints team so pumped up as we were once that first goal by Forte went in. Great determination to win and jubilant scenes at the end with most of the crowd staying behind to applaud the team off the pitch.

I am sure others saw it differently.



Saturday, 2 April 2011
Ref: Russell

01 Davis
03 Harding
06 Fonte - yellow card
12 Butterfield (Richardson 72)
15 Jaidi
11 Guly (Stephens 66)
14 Hammond - yellow card
20 Lallana
30 Chaplow (Forte 63)
07 Lambert
09 Barnard

24 Bialkowski
02 Richardson
17 Martin
19 Seaborne
33 Stephens
08 Forte
22 Connolly

MK Dons
01 Martin
03 Lewington
04 Doumbe
05 MacKenzie
15 Woodards
07 Gleeson - yellow card
22 Leven
26 Chadwick
27 Powell (Ibehre 72)
09 Vine (Clayton 61)
10 Baldock (Marsh-Brown 64)

17 Searle
06 O'Hanlon
21 Marsh-Brown
23 Chicksen
16 Clayton
11 Balanta
19 Ibehre