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Southampton 4

• Lambert 28
• Oxlade-Chamberlain 32
• Jaidi 51
• Chaplow 72

Huddersfield 1

• Novak 15

This sort of game makes me realise why I am enjoying football in League One. Both teams set out to win the game from the kick off, and it was end to end especially in the first twenty minutes or so.

Saints started with just two changes from the team that lost to Brentford in our last game, Fonte was back after suspension to replace Seaborne and Harding replaced Dickson. The subs bench looked very strong, with all seven players of the calibre that would walk in to any other League One team and even some Championship sides. They were, Bialowski, Richardson, Dickson, Barnard, Seaborne, Connolly and Chaplow. Plenty of options for the manager.

Dean Hammond won the toss and chose to kick towards the Chapel end in the first half, maybe he realised that the Northam lads are like an extra man in the latter stages of a game. Will be interesting to see if that now becomes the norm. The pitch looked in good shape, it was a mild afternoon with drizzly rain making a nice fast playing surface. A good size crowd in as well, so all set fair for a cracking game, and so it turned out to be.

Both teams lined up with attack on their mind and after about 10, minutes it might well have been 3-3 such were the number of chances being created by both teams. Huddersfield looked a nippy outfit, breaking out of defence fast mainly with long hoofs up field, but it was effective and saints looked shaky at the back whilst also being dangerous going forward. It was the visitors who scored first and the goal was typical of their quick thinking. They were awarded a free kick and whilst saints were disputing the award the visitors took a quick free kick, admittedly no where near where the offence had been committed and they had the ball in the net with our defence looking around to see if the ref was going to make them take the free kick from the correct place, but he awarded the goal leaving saints fuming. But it was quick thinking and we should be more disciplined and switched on in such situations.

It could have been worse as before we recovered our composure a Huddersfield player missed a sitter when another long ball caught us out, it looked easier to score than miss from where I was sat. Gradually saints settled down and Fonte and Jaidi began to win more of the balls in the air and Butterfield and Harding began to get a grip. Our main outlet was the pace of Chamberlain and the skill of Lallana with both Lambert and Guly seeing more of the ball. Saints got back in to the game and on the half hour, Lambert, who had looked as mobile as I have seen him this season, and his partner in attack Gully, were making themselves available and Rickie came out wide just in front of us in the Itchen stand calling for a quick throw in from Harding who duly obliged, the big striker killed the ball with one touch, swiveled and struck a beauty which hit the back of the net before their keeper could move.

Rickie looked so relieved and he was deluged by adoring team mates. This was the Lambert of last season. It lifted the team and the crowd and it was only a few minutes later that Gully laid off a neat pass in to the feet of Chamberlain whose quick feet saw him get a low shot across the 'keeper. So in the space of a couple of minutes we had turned the game round. There was still a nice flow to the game and the visitors were still looking dangerous on the break. Scneiderlin was fortunate to only get a yellow for a ridiculous challenge on the halfway line when there was no need to make the tackle with covering defenders. I think we got away with that as the ref had been a bit fussy at times.
Half time came with saints applauded off after staging a good fight back. Richardson was among the subs warming up during the half time break and I saw him being called urgently to the tunnel, it emerged that Butterfield had picked up a knock so Richardson came on at the start of this second half and slotted seamlessly in to the right back position. This substitution in no way weakened our side, I rate Richardson and he went on to have a fine game. Jaidi had grown in to the game after a shaky first 15 minutes or so and he went up for a free kick about 5 minutes of the half and threw his massive frame at a beautifully flighted free kick from Lallana and the ball rocketed in to the net in front of a jubilant Northam Stand. Amazing celebrations from Jaidi and his team mates. Saints were on the march and you could feel the confidence returning in the team and in the crowd, but Huddersfield are no mugs going forward as their massive goal tally in the league shows, so our defence had to be on their toes. Fonte was immense but even he was overshadowed in defence where his central partner Jaidi was hurling himself at everything, winning header after header and tackling as if his life depended on it. He was like a man possessed and enjoying every minute. Nothing got past him in that last 45 minutes.

Scheiderlin was treading on eggshells after his early booking and with saints being 3-1 up Nigel Adkins took him off, bringing on Chaplow in his place, again a substitution that did not weaken the side but in my opinion strengthened it, although Chaplow can also be a bit clumsy in his tackling he does offer more in midfield with his strong running and forward movement. As the half wore on Chamberlain was looking a bit uncomfortable and after a tackle he had to have treatment but resumed only to go down again a few minutes later. He was replaced by Dickson who although primarily a full back can play wide and puts a good cross over when he get forward. I think Chamberlain was suffering from cramp more than an injury but he must have impressed a watching Kenny Daglish who was sat in the stands. The youngster had run their full back ragged in the first half so much so he was taken off before half time. His replacement did not fare much better.

Chaplow soon showed his willing box to box running and he got on the end of a good little spell of intricate passing to make space for himself before slotting home a neat goal. 4-1 up and surely 3 valuable points in the bag, but in fairness the visitors never stopped trying but we had the quality in vital areas and were in control and ran out worthy winners.

No real weakness in saints after we had shaken off our early rustiness and settled down, but we had a few scares in that first half especially the first 15 minutes when we were out fought by a team that seemed to be one step ahead of us, but as the game wore on saints got a better grip. Lallana,Chamberlain and Lambert were the pick up front with the much maligned Guly looking short on confidence but he does seem to be involved in and around the box but lacks a cutting edge and drifts in and out of the game. Lambert was back near to his best, he looked fitter and more mobile and he does a lot of work off the ball and his laying off of the ball with both head and feet often gets overlooked. Let's hope he takes this game as a marker for the rest of the season. I think Barnard will be champing at the bit to get out there along side Rickie on Saturday. I understand he, (Barnard) has had his hernia op and is raring to go again. I think if he had Guly's chances today he would have scored a couple. Expect Lee to start Saturday.

A great advert for League One this game, I enjoyed it, especially as both grandsons were there with my son, they will all be back again on Saturday.



Tuesday, 28 December 2010
Ref: Linnington

01 Davis
03 Harding
06 Fonte
12 Butterfield (Richardson 46)
15 Jaidi
04 Schneiderlin - yellow card (Chaplow 55 yellow card)
11 Guly
14 Hammond
20 Lallana
26 Oxlade-Chamberlain (Dickson 71)
07 Lambert

24 Bialkowski
02 Richardson
05 Dickson
19 Seaborne
30 Chaplow
09 Barnard
22 Connolly

01 Smithies
02 Peltier
05 P Clarke
12 T Clarke (Gudjonsson 70)
07 Roberts - yellow card
08 Kay - yellow card
11 Pilkington
16 Arfield
36 Carey (Ridehalgh 31)
19 Lee (Afobe 58)
21 Novak

13 Bennett
06 N Clarke
29 Ridehalgh
04 Gudjonsson
31 Atkinson
17 Rhodes
24 Afobe