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Shrewsbury

Saturday, 6 November 2010
Ref: Hegley
Att:
10,410

Southampton
01 Davis
02 Richardson
03 Harding
15 Jaidi
19 Seaborne
14 Hammond
20 Lallana
26 Oxlade-Chamberlain (Lambert 66)
30 Chaplow
09 Barnard (Connolly 89)
11 Guly (Holmes 88)

Substitutes
24 Bialkowski
05 Dickson
17 Martin
16 Wotton
21 Holmes
07 Lambert
22 Connolly


Shrewsbury
01 Neal
03 Sadler
06 Cansdell-Sherriff
15 Holden
30 Geohaghan
04 McAllister
07 Wright
08 McIntyre
20 Disley
26 Obadeyi (Ainsworth 73)
10 Robinson (Harrold 69)

Substitutes
25 Smith
19 Goldson
11 Leslie
12 Neal
16 Ainsworth
17 Van den Broek
09 Harrold

Southampton 2

• Connolly 90+2
• Lallana 90+2

Shrewsbury 0


No work at St Mary's for me today so a leisurely drive in and a chance for one of the grandsons and the wife to join me for the game. I had bought a ticket for myself with a decent seat earlier in the week but popped in to the ticket office yesterday morning where the lady sold me three tickets together and took back my original ticket - very helpful and no trouble. Downside was 3 seats behind the corner flag in the Itchen low down. Wished I had waited as I could have got decent view seats in the Chapel part of which went on sale late yesterday. Maybe it was just as well as not too much to see.

Saints made a few changes, Jaidi came in for Fonte who was absent from the squad today, Guly came in for Lambert who dropped to the Impact Bench, Chaplow got the nod over Scneiderlin who was also missing from the squad. The Impact seven were; Bialowski, Dickson, Wotton, Holmes, Lambert and surprise selection Connolly. No sign of Puncheon.

It was a good day for football, prices cheap, a bit showery but not too cold for the time of the year and the anticipation of goals was in the air. Sadly not many turned out to watch a team that has won the last four home games scoring 10 goals with only one conceded. With only a fiver for kids I thought a few more families would be there. Just over 10,000 crowd I believe. I even managed to get a couple of hot chocolates with very few in the concourse queue before kick off. Saints kicked off towards the Northam End which housed a reasonable number of saints fans and a noisy couple of hundred or more Shrewsbury fans. The whole of the Kingsland Stand was empty apart from the 'ball boys.'

Saints took the game to Shrewsbury in the early stages and I suppose like most others I was waiting to see how many goals we might score, but although we had loads of possession and the ball was crossed into the box a lot, there was no sign of a goal. As you would expect the crowd got excited whenever Chamberlain got the ball and he used his pace to get down the line and get some crosses in but the visitors defence had little difficulty clearing their lines. It was almost one way traffic in the first half but we had no finishing skills. Neither Guly or Barnard are proper target men, both like to run the channels so we did not truly pressurise their 'keeper or the back four. From my seat I nearly got neck ache looking to my right all the time and from that distance I could not see too much detail. Not easy to spot why we did not take advantage of our attacks.

As the half wore on the visitors took heart and began to mount attacks of their own and in the last five minutes of the half Davis, who had little to do, suddenly found he was needed and he made two point blank saves to keep us in the game, one was top drawer. I was impressed with his alertness and concentration after having so little to do. The half time whistle went with murmurings of discontent from the sparse crowd. Not that we had played really badly but that we had not taken advantage of our attacking play. So 0-0.

No half time entertainment, a dead atmosphere and plenty of room in the toilets, no long queues, and the paper towels had not run out, so some advantage to having a small crowd I suppose. No changes in saints line up for the second half and again we had territorial advantage and players with better skills and passing ability, but it did not produce goals. Our defence coped alright, with Jaidi being outstanding, winning every ball in the air and showing that he still has lots to offer, he seems to have shed a few pounds since last in the team. In midfield we lacked creativity, but Chaplow was here there and everywhere winning tackles and closing down, getting forward too, but he is seriously lacking confidence anywhere near goal.
Should have scored from a few yards out but tamely prodded the ball towards goal instead of hitting a proper shot. But he keeps getting in there and he had a very good game overall. Hammond has had an in and out season and he was not in this game very much. Barnard and Guly were on different wave lengths and young Chamberlain was fading after half time by his recent standards.

I was wishing NA would change things, only Lalanna looked dangerous as the game wore on. I was hoping for Holmes to come on with Lambert to make things happen up front and maybe Dickson for Harding who was not getting forward much.

Eventually NA made his move but only one change, and this was with less than half an hour to go. Chamberlain came off to be replaced by Lambert with Guly moving out wide in Chamberlains place with Rickie up front. It had little effect. Gully is neither a front man nor a winger, he has some lovely touches but is languid in his approach to the game, too much of a luxury for a cup tie against lower league opposition.

We had loads of corners and Lallana was taking all of them from both sides but they were all defended well by a powerful Shrewsbury defence. I could not understand why with so many corners all being cleared with little danger, why we did not vary our corner routine, why not the occasional short corner, or somebody else take them. ( It will be interesting to see how many corners we had) Strangely the game seemed to drifting away in to an inevitable scoreless drawer and yet we had people on the bench who could change things, but it was not until the last 3 or 4 minutes that NA brought on his last two substitutes. Holmes for the toothless Guly and Connolly for Harding who had done a lot of running but had not tested their 'keeper.

It worked like magic,the crowd awoke from there slumbers, the irrepressible Lallana at last had some support up front and after a bit of a scramble in their box Connolly got his first touch of the ball to put it in the back of the net. A typical poachers goal put away with the touch of the quality player that he is. That was a minute into 3 minutes of time added on. A minute later Connolly had his second and last touch, this time it was to kill the ball and lay it off to Lallana all in one. Adam gleefully dispatched the perfect pass to score the goal his play had deserved. Just two touches of the ball from Connolly had resulted in two goals. Final whistle , comfortable scoreline.

The score was a bit unjust on poor old Shrewsbury who had defended well. But on the amount of possession we had I suppose we deserved to win. In the end it was the quality of Connolly and Lallana that made the difference. I cannot understand the reason for keeping Guly on for so long nor the delay in making the last two substitutions. But the end result was yet another win at home. Five on the trot. 12 goals scored and one against so who are we to complain.

It was not a game to excite the crowd, certainly not a cup tie atmosphere, the broad stretch of empty seats along the whole of the Kingsland Stand did not help, neither did all those empty seats in the Chapel and Northam closed off areas. All the excitement was squeezed in to the last 5 minutes of the game.

One last word, well done referee Mr Grant Hedgley, easy game to referee but he made it easier by always being up with the game and being in complete control and by his getting alongside players to explain decisions with a smile on his face, unfussy too. I bet not many people noticed him.

Herbie