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Oldham

Saturday, 23 October 2010
Ref: D'Urso
Att:
20,968

Southampton
01 Davis
03 Harding
06 Fonte
12 Butterfield
19 Seaborne
04 Schneiderlin- yellow card
10 Puncheon (Chamberlain 66)
11 Guly (Wotton 82)
20 Lallana
30 Chaplow
07 Lambert (Barnard 67)

Substitutes
24 Bialkowski
02 Richardson
15 Jaidi
16 Wotton
26 Chamberlain
09 Barnard
31 Bignall


Oldham

01 Brill
02 Mvoto
06 Hazell
19 Lee - yellow card
21 Black - yellow card
07 Jones (Alessandra 79)
14 Furman
18 Taylor
20 Stephens
17 Feeney - yellow card (Brooke 86)
36 Tounkare (Kelly 60)

Substitutes
28 Gerrard
09 Kelly
11 Jarrett
38 Christophe
15 Alessandra
22 Brooke
35 Evina

Southampton 2

• Fonte 45+2
• Chamberlain 73

Oldham 1

• Furman 22

Not a game for the purists but we ground out a result. It was a cold blustery day and rain clouds were circling the stadium when i arrived at 12 noon. My pre match tour consisted of the Mach Sponsors, Diamond Property Holdings from Winchester, a lady celebrating her 70th birthday with her two sons, one who had flown over from the Middle East, and five Norwegian saints fans. We had a great tour which included meeting Nigel Adkins in the dressing room. He goes out of his way to meet the clubs special guests and is always welcoming.

Saints had one enforced change with Hammond being suspended, Schneiderlin was back from international duty so he was paired with Chaplow in the centre of midfield, no other changes although Frazer Richardson was on the bench for the first time, along with Wotton, Jaidi, Bignall Chamberlain, Barnard and Bialkowski. Kelvin Davies captained the side in the absence of regular skipper Dean Hammond.

Saints started brightly kicking toward the Northam End and should have scored early on, Puncheon who looked lively, was involved in most things and he was unlucky when a snap shot from him hit the base of the post. Oldham were looking dangerous on the break and Davis had to be alert in goal. In fact Oldham had the best chance of the early exchanges when a ball bobbled about and a visiting striker was through inside the penalty area with only Davis to beat, but the Saints 'keeper brought off a stunning save, it looked off side to me and in fact the linesman flagged but the ref - the inept Andy D'Urso - did not whistle and the ball was eventually cleared. Debate around me centred on whether D'Urso waved play on because the ball came off a saints player last, or the ref was playing the advantage as we had possession. If he thought saints had the advantage with the ball not fully cleared within our own penalty area then he is a worse referee that I thought! He made no clear signal that I saw, and I do not think play was stopped.

Anyway saints escaped, but we were struggling. We had no control of the game and I suppose the swirling wind did not help the game run smoothly. No team managed by Paul Dickov is ever going to roll over and his team had the competitive edge that he had as a player. So maybe it should not have come as surprise when Oldham scored first. It was around half way through the first half when a visiting midfielder broke forward with the ball, he was not tracked and he scored with some ease with Davis helpless to do anything about it. We had enough defenders back to deal with the threat but no decisive tackle was made.

Saints were rattled and the crowd got edgy, there were a lot of mistakes and passes going astray but just as I thought we were going in half time a goal down, Adam Lalanna, who had been a bit quiet in this first half, took the ball across to the right and his persistence paid off when he was brought down near the by-line just in from the corner flag. He showed no urgency to take the free kick even though we were in the last seconds of the one minute of time added on, but Adam eventually chipped over a fine cross to the near post area where Fonte powered in a great header. Relief all round and the half time whistle went with us applauding the team off whereas a minute earlier we were ready to vent our frustration. It had not been a good half and although saints had started well they faded in attack when the goal our early play deserved did not come.

No changes at the start of the second half and I think conditions were a little less blustery. It was a bit end to end although saints must have had some territorial advantage. It was looking like we might not get the second goal as their 'keeper although busy was not tested too much.
After about half hour or so of the half NA made his first changes, Puncheon who had looked sharper than of late had taken a knock and he came off to be replaced by Chamberlain, and Lambert who had shown some nice touches but rarely looked like scoring was replaced by Barnard. The changes worked, Barnard was a handful (no pun intended!) for their defence, he was much more energetic than Lambert had been and Chamberlain looked as though he was raring to drive at the defence.

So this time it was no surprise that it was saints who took the lead. The ball fell to Chamberlain a few yards outside the box and he pounced in a flash, taking the ball forward and hitting a stinging shot low into the corner of the net. We had chances before but no one seemed to keep the ball down, young Alex showed composure and kept the ball down and it fizzed along the ground. This was what we had come to see and it was all saints from then on, we should have scored more and Alex Chamberlain brought the crowd to their feet as he powered through at breakneck speed from the half way line with the ball as if tied to his feet, leaving defenders in his wake, as he reached the penalty area defenders could not make a tackle such was his pace and power, he then cooly hit a great shot across the 'keeper but it hit the inside of the post and came out. Would have been goal of the season for sure. Great skill for the lad who is only just turned 17. It got him a standing ovation as play continued.

Paul Wotton came on with 10 minutes to go to replace Guly Do Prado who again had shown some great skills and composure on the ball up alongside Lambert and then Barnard. He needs to work on his finishing as does a few more in this team.

The most notable events of the last few minutes of the game inevitably centered around the eccentric refereeing of Andy D'Urso. First he seemed to overlook a foul in our box on Dan Seaborne, the latter stayed down just outside our penalty area whilst play went on, it was a head wound that drew blood, then with the ball nearer the half way line D'urso blew up for the player to get treatment.

No problem we thought, but this referee who seems to have been around forever, restarted the game with a dropped ball where the defender had lain injured. If it had to be a dropped ball it surely should have been where the ball was when play was stopped? More likely it should have been for us to give back possession with a punt down field. Please someone tell me I am wrong or explain Mr D'urso's thinking. Also why was it not a penalty for the tug on Gully in the penalty area when he was clean through? And what was that all about in the first half when my friend Andy ignored his linesman when they nearly scored from a one on one? I do feel that Mr D'Urso, who used to ref in the Premiership, is below the standard required even for this league also. Good job nobody took the opportunity of the free ticket I offered for todays game. Sitting next to me would not have been a pleasure!

So overall we deserved to win, Oldham were aggressive and closed us down and as it sounded at Huddersfield, we do get a bit rattled when teams are in our face. I thought Fonte was back to his best today, and Chamberlain surely must start games and so too must Barnard. We were lacking in midfield and only in that last 15 minutes did we have any control on the game. As I told you sometime ago NA does not name subs, he puts them down on his team sheet in the dressing room as 'impact players' that is exactly what Barnard and Chamberlain were today. Lets have some other views.

Herbie