Black Day At Brighton
• Forster-Caskey 66 • Sparrow 76, 86
Monday, 2nd January 2012
The American Express Community Stadium
Match Report :
What an entertaining afternoon. Firstly, the Amex is a bit "fur coat" isn't it. Looks great but there's no real substance to it. And as for the Brighton fans, well most in the corporate box were really good and spoke passionately and eloquently about their club and had a genuine interest in us and how we were doing and liked us. Then in the seats we were surrounded by "Pompey-lite" fans (for whom my hosts apologised profusely at their lack of knowledge, understanding, grace and class.
The game: well if ever there was a game of two halves......
Saints set up 4-3-3 and looked very comfortable playing it. Perhaps the most interesting point was that Guly was playing as a central midfielder (and doing very, very well) with Connolly, Lambert and Lallana operating as the front three by with excellent fluidity with Cork and Guly. Hammond stayed in front of the back two. The change of formation meant that Taricco and their RB couldn't push forward and apart from a couple of early runs at Richardson and Harding their wide players were ineffective. (2 shots all half!). It also meant that we were able to control midfield and we passed the ball well, with only one or two not looking quite as sharp (Lambert, Lallana and Hammond*)
Oh, we had a perfectly good goal disallowed because the linesman wasn't up with play and several other chances. Total domination. (Please note: I'm desperately trying not to say "I told you so" about Harding)
So it seemed a bit strange to me that we came out and set up 4-4-2 with that fecking diamond.
So the second half, and it didn't bode
well when we immediately set up in the diamond and the previously quiet LuaLua then had all the space and support he needed to terrorise us. In fact a warning shot was provided when Kelvin spilt a shot from him but fortunately there was no-one on hand to finish it. The half quickly deteriorated when Ricky got more frustrated at having a penalty appeal turned down and then being rugby tackled and held down by El-Abd and chose to lash out. Stupid boy.
That was it. No decent options on the bench, Guly - our best player - off with injury and no organisation or leadership whatsoever and they took advantage. Remember that spilt shot? Well the next one was the first goal when the nipper stabbed it in. Then Cork got totally the wrong side of Sparrow, Hammond failed to come across and he let a bullet go. The third goal was just as shambolic. The most disappointing thing? Despite conference after conference in the technical area nothing changed.
Player ratings? Nah, too simplistic. But I will tell you that Harding should never wear a Saints shirt again and that it took 74 minutes before the "water carrier" made a forward pass of any meaningful note.
Aaron Martin looked like he's maturing, organising the back line and looking very composed. If only he had a bit of pace as he (and Richardson) were exposed once or twice.
In short - we need a keeper (or two), a left back, a striker, Chaplow fit again and a manager who can understand what Prozone stats actually mean and how to interpret them into the team!
Attendance : 20,773
03 Greer (red card)
27 Taricco (Hall 54)
10 Sparrow (yellow card)
25 LuaLua (Harley 85)
03 Harding (yellow card) (Fox 40)
10 Guly (Forte 60)
20 Lallana (Reeves 73)
07 Lambert (red card)