A Battling Draw
• Lambert (Penalty) 57
• Conway 36
Tuesday, 31st January 2012
Match Report :
We have our team back!
After last weeks truly pathetic performance against Leicester I was more than a bit apprehensive on the drive down to St.Mary's. There were rumours that we might be about to see several of our injured players returning, plus there was the chance that we might see Tadanari Lee make his first home appearance. So, having been able to predict the starting line-up for most of the season, there was now a real sense of uncertainty for this game.
The lineup included the welcome sight of both Fonte and Lallana returning and Lee was on the bench. There was also the unusual sight of Jason Puncheon in the Saints first team, which was not something I ever thought we would see again.
From the off it was clear that the team was being a bit tentative and within ten minutes came the first bit of controversy, as Rickie Lambert was unceremoniously upended in the penalty area. The ref, Mr. Hayward was having none of this and waved away the furious penalty appeals.
Just as Saints were starting to get the upper hand Cardiff managed to force a corner and Davis punched the ball clear, but only to the feet of Conway, who planted the ball firmly in the back of the net. There were appeals that Davis had been fouled, but once again Mr. Hayward was not impressed.
The rest of the half saw both teams attacking, but without much in the way of end product. Saints in particular, seemed to want to walk the ball into the net and that confidence of before Christmas was sadly lacking.
Half time came and there was a sense of relief that Cardiff had thrown everything they had at Saints and it was still only 0-1. When Saints came out they were much more positive and Puncheon was once again involved in a lot of the good play.
Yet again there was a strong penalty claim from Saints turned down by Mr.Hayward as Lallana was fouled in the box.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of that particular claim, Lallana was back to his mercurial best and was causing all sorts of problems for the Cardiff defence.
Finally, Mr Hayward gave a penalty appeal in what was ironically, the least convincing of the three to date, for handball. The Cardiff players then made a meal out of lining up, with a lot of pushing and shoving. Rickie Lambert paid no attention to any of this and just stared dispassionately at the ball on the spot. When the whistle was eventually blown he stepped up and coolly slotted the ball past Marshall.
Shortly after this the impressive Puncheon was substituted to a standing ovation and his replacement was Tadanari Lee, who then went on to give us glimpses of what might be ahead. He is taller than I was expecting, at 6' and has a fair turn of pace, with good ball control. He was not shy in demanding the ball, in spite of his lack of English and impressed when he was clattered by Whittingham (which gained him a yellow card). He then just got up and continued, without so much as a backward glance.
For the final twenty minutes Saints were in almost complete control and forced corner after corner, without really generating too much pressure on Marshall. Once again they all seemed to be wanting to walk the ball in the net, when someone really needed to take responsibility and go for goal. Rickie almost fashioned a goal at one point by knocking the ball down towards Lee, who was already falling backwards. He stuck a foot out and if he had been wearing shoes a couple of sizes bigger then it would surely have been a goal.
After four minutes of time added on, Saints were still striving for the winning goal, but the final whistle cut short their endeavours. So, an entertaining game, but one that Saints really could have and should have won. No matter, this is clearly a good team and with Billy Sharp to come, Nigel Adkins must be looking forward to Birmingham away on Saturday.
Attendance : 24,356
04 Schneiderlin (Yellow Card)
42 Puncheon (Lee,61)
22 Connolly (Hammond,87)
07 Whittingham (Yellow Card)
11 Conway (Gestede,62)
37 McPhail (Kiss,78)