Brighton v Southampton
Sunday, 29th October 2017
IBO Reporter : Spot51
Last year I bought a replacement Sky box as the previous one was getting long in the tooth. Since then we've attempted to watch all the stored stuff on the old one so that it can be replaced yet, sadly, the new machine remains in the box and we are still watching the dodgy one. Yesterday I got back after the match broadcast had begun but, safe in the knowledge I was recording it, I put the groceries away and made our lunch before sitting down about 10 minutes before kick off.
Not only had the bastard thing failed to record anything but it would not even pause so I could record the teams. It was halftime before I was able to look up Brighton's team and formation. I was able to work out Saints line-up which had 3 changes – Boufal for Long, JWP for the injured Lemina and Hoedt for the excellent Yoshida – why FFS?
Both sides wore their home kit and the sun was shining over the Sussex Downs. Saints looked good early on. They dominated possession and kept Brighton penned back. On 6m Boufal carried the ball cross-field and was upended by the agricultural Stephens. I've learned not to get too excited about Saints free kicks but with JWP on the park this presented a decent early chance.
With Gabbi and Davis infiltrating the Seagulls' wall, JWP stepped up and curled a sweet shot beyond the dive of Ryan. It rattled the woodwork and dropped kindly for Davis who headed into the unprotected net. 0-1 and a cracking start for Saints.
Sky revealed it was the first headed goal for Southampton since January 2016. They also put up a stat showing that Saints had only conceded twice away from home this season – lowest in the Prem, albeit with having played fewer away games than anyone else. The implication was that Brighton would do well to get anything from the game...
Brighton enjoyed a bit of pressure obliging Cédric to clear a cross but Saints always carried a threat. On 11m Boufal embarked on a trade-mark run but Brighton's defenders blocked him off. On 15m Hoedt stepped up to intercept and set up a Saints attack but BHFC cleared their lines. Then Bruno overlapped down their right but Fraser claimed his cross.
After Saints bright start, the next 10 minutes saw the home side enjoy 75% possession. Saints seemed happy to sit deep and let Brighton try to break them down. Another cross was headed up by Hoedt then safely back to the keeper by Romeu.
On 18m Brighton finally got an effort on target. Bertie fouled Gross allowing Knockaert to curl in a cross. Davy Propper got his head on it but directed it right onto Fraser's gloves. Izquierdo looked dangerous down their left but Cedric was keeping tabs on him.
On 21m Murray headed on to Knockaert but his attempted cross was well blocked. Then Bruno fouled Bertie but when Fraser tried to find Boufal with his kick the Moroccan could not keep the ball in play. On 26m Knockaert found Gross wide right but his cross was pulled behind Murray and, despite retaining possession, BHFC then ran the ball out of play.
On 28m Davis brought the ball forward but when he attempted to find Gabbi the Italian had strayed offside. Play was halted while Tadic rolled around following Bong's challenge but the referee saw nothing amiss and Tadic played on.
The game was low on quality with both sides building promising situations then giving the ball away. By 33m there had been just 3 attempts on goal, 2 on target. Then Tadić sent Cédric away and the #2 earned a corner. This was taken short but when Boufal finally crossed the ball, Duffy headed it powerfully away. Two minutes later Boufal set up Tadić, but a good block saw the Serb's shot deflect for another corner.
Bournemouth won the ball but their break fizzled out when the retreating JWP recovered it. Saints were back on top now but Brighton's defence coped with everything we threw at them. A rare Brighton attack saw Knockaert cross but JWP cushioned the ball back to his keeper.
Saints enjoyed a little more possession but on 40m VvD fouled Murray enabling the home side to send their big guys forward. Gross took the kick which was headed away but Knockaert found Stephens whose shot was blocked. Brighton recovered the ball and a long cross found Knockaert by the back post. He volleyed low and hard across the goal area, where the slightest touch might have put it in.
Saints survived this scare but the home side kept possession. The ball was worked back to Knockaert but when his cross came in Duffy headed over. Another cross from Gross was cleared before Saints were able to break. Tadic's cross was calmly chested back to the keeper by Bruno. Then, at the other end, Cédric performed a similar manoeuvre at the other end, although he had Forster scrambling to prevent the corner.
In the added minute, Murray was penalised for handball but Saints held on at 0-1 at half-time. During the interval, Sky's cameras caught Ralph deep in conversation with Le Tiss.
On 47m Stephens up-ended Gabbi allowing Saints to get their defenders forward. JWP's kick was headed behind by Dunk. The corner was partially cleared but Boufal's shot deflected off Bong for another corner. This too was cleared as was Bertie's cross. Then Cédric and Boufal played in Tadić, but Ryan bravely gathered the ball at his feet.
Saints continued to enjoy possession but then, in their own half, gifted the ball to Brighton. Knockaert played Gross in down their right and the German's deep cross saw Murray out-jump Cédric and power a header into the angle between near post and bar. Forster eventually reached it; but by then it was behind the line. 1-1 and game on.
Saints went up the other end where Tadić and Cédric won a corner. JWP's kick was cleared as far as Bertie but his drive bounced off Murray and was grabbed by Ryan. Brighton looked more threatening now and were moving the ball quicker than before.
On 57m Bruno's cross was blocked by Bertie but the ball was worked to Gross on the right. This time his cross found Murray at the near post but his flicked header went wide. Brighton kept attacking but Forster suddenly began coming for crosses and claimed both Knockaert's free kick and another fo Gross.
Saints finally moved upfield where Murray fouled Hoedt. The big Dutchman reacted and both ended up in Mr Swarbrick's notebook. Tadić squandered possession but Fraser again came to claim the resulting cross.
Saints created good positions down both flanks but over-hit passes (Boufal to Bertie then Tadić to Cédric) merely resulted in goal kicks. On 66m Boufal went on a run but put his cross too close to the keeper. At the other end Brighton weren't much better. The lively Gross won a corner but Saints cleared it before another over-hit forward pass gave us a goal kick.
On 70m Gabbi was finally rewarded for his tireless running when he latched onto Bertie's near post cross, but the close attention of Dunk ensured his shot spun out for a corner. Gong cleared JWP's cross allowing Brighton to attack. Moments later Izquierdo cut in from their left, but his shot hit VvD and went out for a corner. The initial cross was cleared but Knockaert recovered the ball but fortunately for Saints, his pass found Duffy who lashed his shot wide. Redmond then replaced Boufal.
JWP fouled Bong but Brighton wasted the free kick. Then, on 77m, a slick move involving Gross and Knockaert ended with a dreadful shot from the Frenchman. There were plenty of tired players and the game was getting scrappier. It was time to get Long on to run the home defence.
On 79m a crude foul on Gabbi saw Duffy booked. JWP's free kick reached Hoedt but the defender headed over. Saints were now keeping the ball better and Brighton had a lucky escape when a JWP cross bounced around their box like a pinball machine.
84m saw more substitutions: Izzy Brown replaced Gross for Brighton while Saints brought on Long and Højbjerg for Tadić and JWP. Bertie and Redmond linked up well down our left but Ryan came and caught the cross.
The game was becoming even slower, with both sides looking frightened to lose it, determined to hang on for a point. On 87m March replaced the pacey Izquierdo, but Saints continued to look the more likely to steal it. On a rare foray down the right Højbjerg laid the ball back to Cédric, whose cross was out behind for a corner. Murray headed Redmond's corner away, but Bertie prevented Bong from breaking.
In the final minute, Bong became the third home player booked when he hacked down Long. In added time Romeu carried the ball forward with Bertie busting a gut to get down the wing. Sadly the Spaniard turned inside and lost possession. It was a fair metaphor for the match; some promise but ultimately disappointing. Time ran out and honours were even. Saints were briefly up to 9th.
At 0-1 Saints looked the better side and should have sought to capitalise by getting a second goal. Instead we seemed content to sit back and allow Brighton back into the game and, during the second half at least, we often looked second best. Chris Hughton was clearly happy with the point; I was pleased to see that MP2 was not quite so chuffed.
Man of the Match
All the reports I've seen have either Gross or Dunk as Man of the Match. If forced to choose a Saint I'd probably go for Yoshida who didn't put a foot wrong all afternoon . . . . . . . .
22 Duffy - Booked 79'
3 Bong - Booked 90'
19 Izquierdo Mena (March 87')
13 Groß (Brown 84')
17 Murray - Booked 62'
17 van Dijk
6 Hoedt - Booked 62'
11 Tadić (Long 84')
16 Ward-Prowse (Højbjerg 84')
19 Boufal (Redmond 72')
- Murray 52'
- Davis 7'
Referee : Neil Swarbrick
Attendance : 30,564
- Brighton 52%
- Southampton 48%
- Brighton 7
- Southampton 6
Shots on Target
- Brighton 2
- Southampton 1
- Brighton 2
- Southampton 7
- Brighton 9
- Southampton 10