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Plymouth Argyle

Saturday, 7th August 2010
Ref: Moss
Att: 21,727

Southampton

01 Davis
03 Harding (Lallana 65)
05 Dickson
06 Fonte
12 Butterfield
15 Jaidi
04 Schneiderlin
10 Puncheon (Holmes 90+1)
14 Hammond
09 Barnard
22 Connolly

Substitutes
24 Bialkowski
18 Mills
19 Seaborne
16 Wotton
20 Lallana
21 Holmes
26 Oxlade-Chamberlain

Plymouth

31 Button
03 Ngala - yellow card
11 Arnason (Johnson 46)
15 Bhasera
23 Timar
34 Molyneux
04 Fletcher
20 Summerfield (Clark 82)
21 Peterlin
14 Fallon
32 MacLean (Patterson 76)

Substitutes
01 Larrieu
02 Duguid
05 Johnson
06 Clark
17 Noone
08 Patterson
16 Mason

Southampton 0

Plymouth 1

* Summerfield 47'

Well all the early season optimism was dispersed today. The saints side on paper looked good enough to be in with a good chance of winning this game and I suppose had we scored a couple of goals which our attacking play deserved in the first half we might have won. But despite getting cross after cross into the the box we never got anyone on the end of them. It would be easy to say that had Rickie Lambert been playing we would have scored, but that would be to easy an excuse. Saints had watched Argyle in pre season and the Argyle manager Peter Read had watched us against Reading. It would seem that the fact that Argyle had a tall 'keeper and two tall centre backs eluded our scouting staff, but Peter Read knew that his two big centre back would win most stuff in the air and that if you stay tight to Connolly and Barnard they could be out muscled.

That is what happened. Our two small forwards in a 4-4-2 set up, tricky as they were, could not get clear of the defenders and were always out jumped in the air. Some of our crosses were over hit, especially the corners, so half time came with saints well ahead in possession but no goals to show for it and the Argyle keeper never needed to extend himself. The visitors seldom attacked and to me a goal less draw looked on the cards.

Somehow the fans were not very vocal, it seemed an odd time of the day to be watching a game and there seemed to be a lack of atmosphere in the stadium. At half time those around me were asking the question, " Why so many high balls into the box when we have no height up front?

I hoped saints would fly out of the traps in the second half and go all out to get a quick goal, but instead it was the visitors who made all the running and were all over us and no surprise when they scored a goal that looked to me from distance, a sloppy piece of defending by saints with no one taking charge of a situation. It was bundled in from close in. 1-0 Plymouth.

Saints began to lose control of the game and we seemed jittery, with passes going astray and Kelvin Davis seemingly try to find touch with every kick. Puncheon was running in to blocked off ally ways out wide right and the early attacking threat of Dickson who was playing wide left in front of Harding dried up, so Connolly and Barnard hardly got a sniff. Plymouth might even have doubled their lead as they began to get more possession. Time to shake the side up AP, I thought. There was only an half hour left .

Sure enough he brought on Adam Lallana and took Harding off pushing Dickson back to left full back. Lalanna mad a big difference as he made some intelligent runs and his introduction brought the crowd to life, but we needed more than just Adam Lalanna, Puncheon never really got behind saints reject Lee Molyneux to create any danger and our midfield seemed devoid of ideas and I should have thought AP would have tried something different - he did eventually bring Puncheon off and brought Holmes on - but in the 90th minute! What was all that about?

Once Plymouth had contained our strikers in that first 45 minutes they must have know they were in with a chance and they took it. This saints team had no plan B. Last season Waigo and Antonio would have been a different option and I am bemused that one or both have not been replaced in the squad. Did AP really think that Rickie Lambert was going to play another 60 games without injury? Why no tall bustling striker signed? This squad is not good enough to cope with the two outstanding players from last season RL and AL nursing injuries.

Today Fonte was class as ever at the heart of our defence. Jaidi looked a bit off the pace, Kelvin Davies had a frustrating day with his delivery and maybe might have been at fault with the goal, Schneiderlin looked as though he had not played much pre season, Connolly disappointed over the 90 minutes, Barnard was as energetic and brave as ever, Hammond was his usual busy self but did not impose himself on the game for the full 90 minutes, Butterfield looks a good acquisition as does Dickson but we are short of a dominant, inspirational midfielder and of course we had no one to hold the ball up like Lambert does. We were very predictable.

Not sure what to make of the ref he seemed to enjoy watching some wrestling matches and let an awful lot of fouls go, on both sides. Better than being fussy I suppose. Plymouth took full advantage of his leniency!

I have not had the advantage of seeing the game on TV, it might have looked a different game to what I have described. But that is how i saw it. Please someone else give us their views.

Herbie