• Lambert 13′, 21′, 72′
Tuesday, 25th February 2012
Match Report :
I think that the general opinion in the media was that once West Ham hit the top, then that would be effectively be that. It wasn't. The media reckoned without the sheer persistance of this Saints side.
West Ham could only manage a draw at home in the early kick-off game against Crystal Palace, so Saints knew before the start of their game at Watford, that they could go top of the table again if they won.
The Watford pitch has a reputation as being not the best at this time of year and so Saints adjusted their gameplan to suit, using a far more direct approach. This becomes clear from a brief glance at the stats in the sidebar on the right, where you can see that Saints did not have a single corner all game.
Saints lined up with the returning Butterfield at Right Back in place of the injured Richardson. The only other change was Lee starting in place of Sharp, who dropped to the bench.
Saints imposed themselves right from the off and it wasn't long before the first goal. The Watford goalie was the Pole Tomask Kuszczak, on loan from Manchester United and having his first game. He came to take a cross, failed and Rickie Lambert had the relatively simple task of nodding the ball over Kuszczak's head into the net.
The Watford manager, Sean Dyche's response to that was to change formation to 4-4-2, matching Southampton. Big mistake.
Eight minutes later it was 2-0 as Watford were ripped apart again, with Lallana notably influential in the build up. Rickie Lambert smashed the ball in past the blameless Kuszczak.
It should have been 3-0 just after the break, but Lee shot over the bar. He made amends twenty minutes from time by drawing a fantastic save from Kuszczak. In the immediate seconds after the Watford fullback Dickinson shoved Lee and the referee Mr Bates had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Well, any Saints fan could tell you what was going to happen next. Lambert takes penalty. Lambert scores. Hat-trick 3-0.
So far so good, the game was effectively over, but Lallana had gone off with a groin strain on the half-hour and Rickie Lambert went off after turning his ankle for the second time on 84 minutes. The two core players in this fantastic team. One can only hope that it is nothing serious in either case. The saving grace is that there is no game now until Saturday, when Saints face Leeds at Elland Road. Having said that, Adkins is always banging on about it being a squad game and he is right. If you look at Butterfield coming back in after an eon out injured, the team didn't miss a beat.
Leeds will be interesting now they have Neil Warnock in charge.
Attendance : 13,424
07 Yeates (Buaben - 84' )
18 Kacaniklic (Iwelumo - 78' )
20 Trotta (Garner - 59' )
26 Hooiveld Booked
18 Chaplow (Hammond - 77' )
20 Lallana (Puncheon - 29' Booked )
07 Lambert (Connolly - 84' )