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Rochdale

Saturday, 4 September 2010
Ref: Woolmer
Att:
18,169

Southampton
01 Davis
03 Harding
06 Fonte
12 Butterfield
17 Martin
04 Schneiderlin
10 Puncheon
14 Hammond
26 Oxlade-Chamberlain (Mills 71)
07 Lambert
22 Connolly (Guly 61)

Substitutes
24 Bialkowski
05 Dickson
15 Jaidi
18 Mills
11 Guly
16 Wotton
40 Garrod


Rochdale

01 Lillis
02 Wiseman
03 Widdowson
04 Holness
26 Dawson
06 Barry-Murphy
07 Kennedy
08 Jones
16 Tutte (Thompson 90+2)
09 Elding
19 O'Grady

Substitutes
21 Edwards
12 Goodall
18 Thompson
11 Done
15 Thompson
10 Redshaw
14 Akpa Akpro

Southampton 0

Rochdale 2

• O'Grady 45+1
• Jones 68

It sounds as if most who could not get to the game watched it online so you might think I watched a different game! I was not really looking forward to the game after the insipid display on Tuesday, but my day started off OK. I was at the stadium early, before noon, the sun was shining and as went in to Reception everybody seemed cheerful and no air of despondency around. I met my tour party, it was Listee Dick Knapp and his family all celebrating Dick's 60th birthday by having a pre match meal in the Terry Paine Carvery with a pre match tour thrown in.

We soon met up with Dean Wilkins in the dressing room and he kindly posed for a pic with the birthday group. Alex Chamberlain was next in and he shyly and politely said Hello, he is such a nice lad. We wished him well for the game, drawing a coy smile. A look at the shirts showed a couple of surprises, Lee Holmes shirt was up along with young striker Tony Garrod's shirt. I thought Holmes was on the injury list. After a pleasant walk down the tunnel we walked out in to a sunlit stadium and I got my usual pre match buzz. I have the best job in football. Dick's wife saw Dan Harding coming towards us round the pitch, "Oh I love Dan" she said, "he's lovely" so i asked Dan if he could spare a minute for a lady in love with him! His eyes lit up and he gave his blushing admirer a big kiss and then posed for a photo. Well done Dan. Other players ambled in as we went up into the Directors Box where I was able to talk about the stadium etc before escorting my party down to the Terry Paine Suite via the Honours Board and the trophy cabinet. So a good tour with no hint of what was to come. Nice to put a face to a Listees name. Tim Flowers was in the media box and he had a quick word. Looked very fit.

After the tour I spotted Bobby Gould also Peter Reid. Did not spot any potential managers!

I later met Stuart from Basingstoke just before kick off who took advantage of my spare ticket to sit next to me, nice to meet him, so yet another listee met. Only another 900 to go!

Now to the game; The team DW had picked was I thought the same as what I would have chosen, with Martin restored to the centre of the defence and Chamberlain staring a League One game for the first time. He played on the right with Puncheon on the left. The first 20 minutes or so was all saints who were passing the ball around well but with no finished product in the final third, then Rochdale looked to have weathered the early storm, perhaps that should have been 'early shower.' They came in to the game a bit more but posed no real threat, but just as the fourth official put up the board for 2 extra minutes the visitors cleared a saints attack and a Rochdale midfielder ran clear and made a bee line down the centre of the pitch, no one tracked him and he just kept running, no one approached him to make a tackle so he just kept running as our two central defenders backed off, he timed his pass to perfection to put his team mate through on goal and saints were 1- 0 down after having the majority of possession. Amateurish defending. Aaron Martin looked to have got his studs stuck in the rapidly deteriorating St Mary's pitch and was laid out for some time being attended to by Mo Gympel saints physio. He had just limped to the touchline and the ref blew for half time. Even though saints had been toothless up front it was an unjust scoreline.
No changes at the start of the second half, and still no change with saints efforts. We were slow in passing the ball, the build up was laboured and when the ball did get in the box we had no striker to finish things off. A slow build up will always enable teams to get back behind the ball and Rochdale had little difficulty preserving their lead and in fact they added to it, again it was a breakaway and their midfielder moved forward and hit a great shot, a goal all the way. This was with ten minutes to go and saints fans started to drift out of the stadium muttering and shaking their heads.

I am afraid Dean Wilkins, on a hiding to nothing, he got his substitutions wrong by bringing off our most effective attacking player, Chamberlain and leaving the ineffective Puncheon on the field. Connolly had not looked dangerous either but at least he was withdrawn. Why not give young striker Garrod a run in those last 10 minutes he could have done no worse than RL. Saints made a spirited finish but they never looked like scoring so it ended 0-2. Cue boos and chants of 'there's only one Alan Pardew'

To sum up - we missed Barnard and Lallana just as I had forecast (no brainer was it?) But Ricky Lambert again looked unfit and at times disinterested, never using his strength to power a way through and failing to get on the end of moves. Connolly flattered to deceive, Puncheon was very poor and his miss from 3 yards was schoolboy stuff, he runs into cul de sacs with the ball and just does not get his head up when in possession so fails to see an opportunity to pass. He wastes his skills. Hammond tried hard but he fails to inspire like a captain should, Schneiderlin does not have a stomach for a fight and too many of his passes are sideways and predictable, Young Chamberlain, although still learning the game, showed pace and control and was always a likely source of an opening before being surprisingly substituted. At the back Harding and the ever reliable Butterfield played OK and I thought Martin justified his recall to the team, but Fonte is suffering from nerves it seems to me, not so decisive as last season. He is a great player but just not performing to his best at the moment. Davis did not have a lot to do, and not being behind the goal I will not pass judgement as to whether he should have saved the first. No chance with their second.

Of the subs, well Fish Mills was not as effective as the lad he replaced. I might be on my own with my judgement of Guly, as I thought he looked more comfortable in the centre of midfield when he came on, and although he looked a bit nervous and mis-controlled the ball with his first touch, I thought he showed the right idea by passing and moving, he never stood still, once he passed the ball he ran into space and was calling for a return, he was always looking for the ball, and got in to some good positions, he looks to have goals in him from midfield, always ready to shoot. Don't write him off yet.

All this in my humble opinion and written from memory, not using any notes and of course no tv replays. Feel free to tear my impressions to pieces.

Herbie