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Swindon

Tuesday, 31 August 2010
Ref: Sheldrake
Att:
8,333

Southampton
01 Davis
03 Harding
06 Fonte - yellow card
12 Butterfield (Barnard 74 - yellow card, red card)
15 Jaidi
04 Schneiderlin
10 Puncheon (Oxlade-Chamberlain 63)
11 Guly (Dickson 74)
14 Hammond
07 Lambert
22 Connolly

Substitutes
24 Bialkowski
05 Dickson
16 Wotton
26 Oxlade-Chamberlain
09 Barnard


Swindon

01 Lucas
02 Cuthbert
14 Morrison
15 Amankwaah
17 Kennedy
04 Douglas (Evans 21)
07 McGovern
08 Ferry
11 Timlin
09 Pericard
32 Austin - yellow card (O'Brien 81)

Substitutes
12 Smith
18 O'Brien
20 Dossevi
34 Evans
16 Ball

Southampton 0

Swindon 3

• Pericard 29
• Austin 63
• Pericard 90+2

I was not really looking forward to this game to be honest, but my youngest grandson tried to cheer me up on the journey in with his youthful enthusiasm. So I tried very hard to be positive about the game. It was nice to meet a fellow listee before kick off, he was sat just in front of me -didn't catch the name- but it is always nice when a fellow listee says hello.

My first disappointment before kick off was that there were no programmes on sale, a notice on the big screen said programmes only on-line. I hadn't brought my lap top with me! What about nerds who like me want to keep them? Yet again no thought for not computerised fans. So I had little idea who was playing for Swindon nor the referees name, a loud mouth guy near us didn't either as he was calling him lots of names!

Saints kicked off with Gully playing just in front of us on the left side of midfield in place of the injured Lalanna, Connolly was preferred to Barnard (although I am sure Barnard was only rested) and Jaidi was back to partner Fonte in place of Martin. It was an eerie atmosphere, with the whole of the Itchen stand empty apart from the Directors Box and there weren't many in there. Only 2 Executive Boxes seemed to be in use and has I hadn't brought my binoculars with me I am afraid I can't start any rumours about who was over there. I don't know if Mr Hart was over there, but there certainly was no heart in the saints team. The whole of the Chapel Stand was empty as well. Swindon did not have many fans. With all that and the disbelief and disappointment of AP's sacking it was sure as sure there was never going to be a cup tie atmosphere.

Saints started off Ok but it was not long before the chants of 'there's only one Alan Pardew' rang around the two sides of the
ground, I swear a couple of the players joined in -:) Swindon looked sharp and had some nippy players who began to make our lads look a bit leaden footed. Gully tried to get in to the game, but this was no game for him to be playing in, he was on hiding to nothing. He looked all right foot and on a different wave length to his team mates, but his major contribution to the first half was when he raced through and took the ball to the byline where he dinked a ball across with the outside of his right boot when it would have been a lot easier to use his left, but it set up a good chance for any onrushing forward to bury it in the net, but we did not have any onrushing forwards on the field tonight and the ball was cleared. It was good opening, probably the only real chance all evening.

The Swindon goal in this half was a well worked goal, superbly executed. I think it was their right back who raced down the line on the break leaving Gully in his wake, the ball was superbly hit on the run from the bye-line over the head our solitary defender in the middle, where Vincent Pericard was left unmarked, he showed great technical ability as he volleyed it home. We never really recovered, and more songs about there being only one AP rang out. Swindon comfortably saw the game out until half time.

No changes by saints for the second half but still no fire in the belly and it was no surprise really when Swindon doubled their lead, by now the saints fans were really subdued as we hardly looked like scoring, although Connolly was working hard and Gully looked a bit more in the game. Maybe he heard someone in the directors box chanting his name! Puncheon who had not played too badly was replaced by young Alex Chamberlain. Then five minutes later Dean Wilkins decided to go 3 at the back so the admirable Butterfield was sacrificed as Barnard came on and Dickson replaced Gully down the left.
The Saints did begin to look a bit sharper with Chamberlain putting his more experienced team mates to shame with some determined runs and good footwork and his never say die spirit. But it was all to no avail, we were a beaten and dispirited side.

Barnard went sliding in on an opponent and from a distance it did look a bit foolhardy, the game was already lost so the tackle was not needed, the ref held up both the red and yellow cards at the same time, but he soon indicated that it was a straight red. So 3 games out for our best player by a mile so far this season. In time added on Hammond found himself all alone in the left back position and the visiting winger sped past him as if he wasn't there and crossed for an easy goal by Pericard. 3-0 and the final whistle was a relief and the boos rang out. 10 year old Josh turned to me and said "that was the worst game I have ever been to" I couldn't argue

Davis had made a couple of very good saves but I don't remember their 'keeper making any. Butterfield and Harding were the pick of our defenders, Jaidi was poor and I don't remember Fonte being so off the pace before. He had an uncomfortable evening, in midfield Schneiderlin and Hammond had their hands full and both did some good things, Puncheon looked a bit more on his game in patches but drifted inside too much. I was disappointed in Gully, he is no Waigo or Antonio. Connolly will always give 100% but he was crowed out this evening by a well drilled, disciplined Swindon defence. Rickie Lambert has gone from being the most feared striker in this league to a pussy cat, he never looked the slightest bit interested and was beaten in the air far to easily. Dickson looked lively in his ten minutes on as sub, and Barnard was trying to show the team how much his fire had been missed and made that rash tackle. Alex Chamberlain showed them all what fire in the belly was and he was my man of the match after only being on the pitch for 20 minutes or so.

The ref gave us a few comedy moments especially when he gave a corner to Swindon on the advice of his linesman when he himself had ran back to the half way line along with the whole of the Swindon team who had obviously known it was goal kick and not one of them had appealed. It was comical to see the game held up as a bemused Swindon team and the referee had to go running back to the goal mouth area after settling for the goal kick. Surely the ref should have over ruled his linesman when every player on the pitch and he himself had taken up their positions for a goal kick. Light relief on a very sorry night for Southampton Football Club.

It was not just that we lost the game, it was a night when there was so much anger and bemusement all around, there was no soul, no passion, either in the team or in the stands. It was not just the Northam Stand showing their displeasure at the recent happenings off the pitch, it was all around the sparse crowd. I could hear it and feel it in the ground, outside the ground, and in the concourses. There is so much anger and disappointment after what looked like being a great season, especially after Saturdays result, suddenly being brought to a shuddering halt. We were so happy and now we are in despair and bewildered. Make no mistake the next few days will be crucial. I hope Nicola will take good advice when deciding on the next manager. Nothing but a winning team and a happy dressing room will help us get over our disappointment and stop fans staying away. As usual, whatever happens I'll be there supporting the team, it is in my blood.

Herbie.