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Swindon

Saturday, 26 February 2011
Ref: Rushton
Att:
22,627

Southampton
01 Davis
03 Harding
06 Fonte
12 Butterfield
15 Jaidi
11 Guly (Barnard 57)
14 Hammond
20 Lallana
26 Oxlade-Chamberlain (Gobern 85)
30 Chaplow (Schneiderlin 54)
07 Lambert

Substitutes
33 Shea
02 Richardson
17 Martin
04 Schneiderlin
27 Gobern
09 Barnard
32 N'Guessan


Swindon
01 Lucas
02 Cuthbert
03 Rose - yellow card
05 Frampton
06 Caddis
04 Douglas
07 McGovern (Prutton 64)
08 Ferry
22 Ritchie (Bodin 68)
25 Obika (O'Brien 68)
27 Grella

Substitutes
12 Smith
15 Amankwaah
16 Flint
10 Prutton
11 Timlin
18 O'Brien
31 Bodin

Southampton 4

• Lallana 15
• Lambert 60
• Jaidi 61
• Barnard 90+2

Swindon 1

• Ritchie 54

When i arrived at the stadium at 12 noon the sun was shining but there were some ominous looking clouds rolling in. I gave the match ball sponsors a tour of the dressing room which was buzzing with anticipation, Nigel was looking alert and the players were arriving for their pre match meal.

I notice that Alex Chamberlain is always dropped off early by car, I presume he is too young to drive. He was cheerful as usual, confident but never pushy, and willing to sign autographs for fans approaching him outside the stadium.

I couldn't wait for the game to start. There was nothing negative about the dressing room or the stadium even though the rain started to fall. It tipped it down for about a half hour or more but by kick off it had cleared and it was a mild but breezy. I was able to get over to the Foundation Lounge to meet up with Listee Steve Mullins who was the proud dad of 8 year old Leah Mullins the saints mascot for the day. Leah was cute and looked as if she was enjoying every minute of her time on the pitch. (Steve is the Croydon based saint who comes to help entertain the Chernobyl children with his magic)

Saints were unchanged from Tuesday. The subs were James Shea, Richardson, Schneiderlin, Barnard, Martin, Gobern and N'guessan. There was a good contingent of fans from Swindon and a fairly good home crowd. Saints started kicking to wards the Northam End.

An initial flurry from the visitors showed they were nippy up front but it was not long before saints started to put together some lovely passing moves, with La Lallana, Chamberlain and Lambert all getting involved. Chamberlain showed maturity and awareness to get back to to help his defence and to make a timely tackle to halt a threatening counter attack by the visitors.

It was not long before the youngster showed his skills and pace at the other end, when he latched on to a pass just inside their half, turned on the turbo charge as he nipped away from his marker out wide right, and then cut in to let rip with a shot that looked every inch a goal, but it hit the inside of far post and rebounded to safety. Next to hit the the post was Guly who had looked lively in this opening part of the game.

After 15 minutes a good pass from deep from Lambert was moved on first time by Guly right in to the stride of Lallana, he did not strike the ball cleanly but it nestled in the back of the net to put us a deserved goal in front. I thought this would see us push on to get more goals but for some reason we started to put passes astray, in midfield Swindon had the edge and with pace on the left in particular they began to unsettle saints.

Butterfield was having a tough time against his winger and a lot of his passes were going astray as well, he was not the only one at fault. Hammond was caught in possession a couple of times and it seemed as though Swindon's game plan was not to allow us time to get our passes out from the back. Although we still had the better of the game we had certainly lost the momentum that we had built up before we scored.

Half time came with us still in the lead and Kelvin Davis had not been unduly troubled but you sensed the disappointment in the crowd that we had not added to our score and had allowed Swindon to recover from the goal.

Half time we were treated to a display of dancing by some local teenage dance troupe. It was a pity that they were forced to put on a show in a confined area of the running track as the pitch was too wet. I had seen them out in front of the Ted Bates statue earlier and they were very entertaining, especially a couple of lads doing 'brake dancing'

No changes for saints at the start of the second half. Swindon started the half brighter than saints and they looked the more likely to score. The crowd were getting edgy and saints, although not exactly letting Swindon get toot many chances, were unable to put together any sustained pressure. We were not getting hold of the ball in midfield and passing it. I saw Morgan Schneiderlin getting ready to come on, it was an obvious substitution to make.

The change was delayed whilst saints had a corner and before the change was finally made Swindon scored.
I thought Lambert had been fouled as did half the stadium and maybe the saints players, but the ball was passed up through the midfield area where it found its way to ex pompey player Matt Richie who gleefully scored low down past Davis. It was not a particularly hard shot or even well placed, but it deceived our keeper and they were level. It has to be said the goal had been coming.

Before the restart Schneiderlin had replaced Chaplow who had not been able to impose himself on the game, and we were not seeing his usual energetic display. Within a few minutes NA also sent on Barnard to partner Lambert up front in place of Guly, who although working hard at chasing the ball down had not done enough to trouble their 'keeper. This all happened within minutes of Swindon scoring and it transformed the game, the impact players came on and had an impact!

Barnard was energetic and lively and Schneiderlin brought composure to midfield. Saints won a free kick midway inside the visitors half of the field out on the right. Harding went out to take it and flighted a superb left footed inswinging cross into the penalty area where Lambert rose majestically to power home an unstoppable header.

Within two minutes a rampant Saints won a corner on the left, Lallana came over to take it and with everybody expecting the ball to be hoisted on to Lambert's head again, Chamberlain darted free to pick up a short corner from Lallana, he turned in side and chipped a perfect cross to the far post where Radhi Jaidi rose highest to power home a header as good as the one by Lambert a couple of minutes earlier.

So within less than five minutes the game had been turned on its head and saints had regained the lead and their confidence, the crowd found their voices again. Saints were in no mood to let Swindon get back in to the game and we upped the tempo and took control.

In the closing ten minutes it was all saints, Lambert hit a ferocious free kick from distance that was brilliantly saved and he had a shot on the run that surely would have gone right through the net had not the Swindon 'keeper got his hands to it. This was the Lambert of last season, and remember this was in the latter stages of the game. He is looking fitter as the season goes on.

The last substitute was Oscar Gobern for a tiring Chamberlain. Saints reverted to the diamond formation with Gobern tightening up the midfield alongside Hammond, and Schneiderlin this was a professional approach as we looked to see out the game. I like the look of Gobern, he is well built, mobile and has a football brain, he was so unlucky to find a goalkeeper on top of his game when he hit a 'Lambert like' volley that brought yet another superb save from the Swindon number one.

Four minutes of added on time was announced and it was enough for Barnard to get a deserved goal. He took the ball out wide, skipped pass the despairing dive of the 'keeper and squeezed the ball home from the tightest of angles. Full time 4-1 to saints.

I thought it was a tad flattering scoreline until thinking about it as I was driving home, I realised what great saves their keeper was forced to make and I did not remember Kelvin Davis having one save to make of any note apart from holding on to a sky scraper when buffeted by defenders and attackers alike in the fist half. We had most of the possession as well. We were just a bit untidy between scoring our first goal and them scoring. After that we were well in control,

Lallana, Lambert, Chamberlain, Fonte and Jaidi were (in my opinion) our best players. Schneiderlin and Barnard made a big difference to the shape and potency of the side when they came on. We had quality where and when it mattered. Last word must be, well done ref, he let the game flow, he 'managed' the players without ever being fussy and tried hard to keep his cards in his pocket but had to book a Swindon player in the end.

That is how I saw my day at St Mary's and on reflection it was a good day all round. Feel free to disagree.

Herbie