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Tranmere

Saturday, 9 October 2010
Ref: Ward
Att:
19,293

Southampton
01 Davis
03 Harding
06 Fonte
12 Butterfield
19 Seaborne
10 Puncheon (Chamberlain 79)
11 Guly (Barnard 63)
14 Hammond
20 Lallana (Holmes 86)
30 Chaplow
07 Lambert

Substitutes
24 Bialkowski
05 Dickson
15 Jaidi
21 Holmes
26 Chamberlain
09 Barnard
31 Bignall


Tranmere
31 Gulacsi
03 Cresswell
14 Wood
18 Blanchard
32 Wootton
06 McLaren
08 Welsh
30 Mendy (Fraughan 65)
07 Showunmi
21 Jennings (Morrow 75)
27 Akins (Moore 59)

Substitutes
13 Collister
02 Cathalina
24 Bakayogo
15 Fraughan
22 Power
09 Moore
28 Morrow

Southampton 2

• Lambert 42
• Lallana 56

Tranmere 0


This was a very good day to be a saints supporter. I had the privilege of taking a good pre match tour and met Angie Adkins again - she told me she and Nigel have just moved in to a lovely apartment in Winchester, and she just loves it down here. Such a friendly lady. I had two visitors from Australia on my tour along with the match sponsors. The two from down under were Duncan Sims and his wife Lorrraine. Duncan was brought up in Shirley and was a regular at the The Dell before moving to Queensland where he met his wife. It was their first ever visit to St Mary's. I also met up with Andy Lombardi and his lad Andrew, and David Sweet outside the stadium. Always good to meet Listees. Sorry I did not have more time to chat.

Now to the game, it was a lovely sunny afternoon once the haze cleared, the stadium looked great. Saints brought in Chaplow for Schneiderlin ( on international duty) and Guly for Barnard who dropped to the bench alongside new boy Bignall, Bartoz, Jaidi, Dickson, Chamberlain and Holmes. We really do have a strong squad at this level.

Captain Dean Hammond won the toss and for some reason decided to kick towards the Chapel End in the first half, meaning the team would be playing towards the massed ranks in the Northam Stand in the second half. I wonder if that will be the norm from now on. Tranmere only had a few fans up in the corner of the Northam/Itchen. Not much more than a 100 or so of them.

In the first 15 minutes saints could have, and should have been 2 or 3 goals up. Our passing and attacking play was in a different class, Guly Do Prado was a revelation, playing just off Rickie Lambert up front. He was the catalyst of most of our attacks and showed great control and passing. Good vision too. He laid on a perfect through ball for Lambert to run on to but Rickie did not have the pace or final control to make the most of it. As half time approached it seemed that we would not score even with so much possession and good forward play. But with just a few minutes to half time the impressive Guly chased down a lost cause in the far corner putting a defender under pressure, the ball was half cleared and went only as far as a supporting Butterfield who crossed a peach of a ball, Lambert rose to meet it at the far post to thump a header home. A well made, well deserved goal. Saints had kept the ball from back to front during this first half with Kelvin Davis a spectator apart from fielding a few long balls. To his credit KD joined in the passing by throwing or passing the ball to his defenders to play out from the back. So half time saints walked off to a good round of applause with a valuable 1-0 lead.

No changes to saints team at the start of the half and no change in the game plan. Lambert was the spearhead up front and Gully was running all across the front line, dropping intelligently in to space either side of Lambert or dropping off him with Lallana and Puncheon stretching the Tranmere defence out in the wide areas and Chaplow and Hammond doing a good job in the centre of midfield. Butterfield and Harding were also getting forward with Fonte and Seaborne comfortably dealing with everything through the middle. No more goals came though until the around the half hour mark of this second half.
Again Guly was involved when he ran in to acres of space on the right and after some great control he squeezed the ball across goal where a gleeful Adam Lallana tucked the ball home. 2-0 job done.

By this time Guly was showing signs of cramp and it was no surprise when he was replaced by Lee Barnard who had his hand heavily strapped. Gully received a huge standing ovation as he came off. Barnard looked lively and could have scored a couple of times before the end. The next player to be subbed was Puncheon who also got a good round of applause for a gutsy performance, Alex Chamberlain replaced him as saints continued to dominate but missing several very good chances with Chaplow missing a real sitter. The final change for saints was Holmes coming on for Adam Lallana who as you would expect got a standing ovation. The game ended 2-0. Second successive home win and yet another clean sheet.

I suggest it was the best all round display by a saints team this season, the only thing missing was more goals. I doubt if I have ever seen such a dominant passing display by a saints team - certainly not for many a year. Nigel Adkins has quickly imposed his way of playing the game on this team. Gone are the rash tackles, the big hoof, and selfish play. Every player knows his job and the incisive passing set up some great chances. We were not just clinical enough in front of goal. The defence looked solid and the Seaborne/Fonte central defence partnership is gelling nicely, Butterfield and Harding looked well in control of things, I thought Chaplow looked in need of more games to get his sharpness back, but Hammond did some very good work covering a lot of ground.

Lambert is inching his way back and took his goal well and had another thundering header hit the bar. He got involved and seemed to work well with Guly. The Brazilian surprised me with his great touch and he has a way of getting sideways on to the play and he seems to know where his team mates are when he has the ball. It is early days and maybe the heavy grounds and better teams will find him out, but he could become a very good player for saints. He is intelligent, a joy to watch at times. Lallana too his getting fitter with every game and Puncheon although not as sharp as he can be, put in a lot of work and was disciplined in staying out wide to create space for Gully to work in.

Overall a very entertaining display from saints, spoiled only by not getting as a many goals as our display warranted. Tranmere were in truth a poor team, only their 'keeper earned his wages today. I felt sorry for their few fans who had made the journey down from Merseyside.

I must mention the ref. I hardly noticed him - a good sign- he kept the game flowing, kept control without the use of cards and contributed to a good game.

Lets hear how others saw it.

Herbie