Guly Brace Makes It Look Simple
• Guly 34, 77
Crystal Palace 0
Monday, 26th December 2011
Match Report :
Rather than "crashhot off the presses" today is my day for filling in for Channers whilst he is experiencing another New Zealand Christmas.
Well, with visions of that donkey Scowcroft racing clear of Alex Pearce who looked rather like someone who had never seen a football before as it bounced in front of him and then over his head on the way to scoring a hat-trick against us a few years ago I approached this game with some trepidation...
…As it turns out I'm not at all sure why?
Southampton completely and totally controlled this match, Crystal Palace, on paper at least, have some decent players but they were never in this match.
All they managed to do was keep us to 2 goals and keep the game from getting completely out of their grip, they did not in any way look like they were going to threaten us and even the pace of Scannell or Zaha and the battering ram that is Murray didn't get a sniff.
Player Ratings :
Davis - not much to do, just what I like to type after his name. What he did do he did very well, came for a very effective punch and apart from a cross that went straight across the box didn't look at all threatened during the entire game. Because of that I can only give him 6/10, not because he was bad but just because he had very little to do.
Richardson - he's getting better, I'm very relieved to say. The crossing is becoming more consistent, his work with Cork and Steeeeve today was excellent and a beautiful cross was delivered for the second goal. His tracking back was good even though he was up against a couple of greyhounds he managed very effectively in a good right-sided double-team with Steeeeve. 8/10, very good performance.
Fonte - performed very well today, did everything he needed to do and looked very secure. Not much to say as he wasn't threatened very much, like his partner, very effective. I'm sure I heard the Palace fans singing "José Fonte baby" at some point, obviously a player that the crowd warms to. 7/10 very secure and not much troubled.
Hooiveld - I would say "as above" except I have to say I think he was that little bit better than Fonte, something about this guy's game makes me think he will do well if we ever get into the premiership, if we don't somebody else will take him there because he can play at that level, I have no doubt. 7/10, untroubled and excellent.
Fox - Apart from his seeming ability to get a nosebleed when he gets close to the halfway line, he didn't really do much wrong today even counting the yellow card (and it was on the other side of the ground to me otherwise I would have said it didn't look even look like it should have been one of those, I guess those in the Kingsland can comment better on this than I?) I suspect he may have been told not to get anywhere near the opposition box just to give Adam a bit more free rein and cover but sometimes it was very frustrating seeing a bloody huge gap in front of him that he refused to run into… Still, I'm sure Nigel knows best… 7/10 could have been more effective offensively but basically had a good game.
Lallana - looked good today, flattered to deceive in some ways but there seemed to be some more of the old Adam there, he looked more interested in getting into goal scoring spaces and, although they were a bit far away, seems to want to shoot again, signs of improvement always welcome from someone who can go on good goalscoring runs. His interchanges with Guly and Lambert are always good to watch even if sometimes things don't quite come off, I can't help feeling that he needs to pass into space not directly to a person, equally, his attacking partners (various) need to run into space and trust the ball will come to them. He will get it there when he gets a little bit sharper again. 7/10, kept them busy and that game sharpness is slowly coming back (as it always does with him after injury).
Schneiderlin - for the first 10 min I didn't think he was as great as everyone else seemed to think he was, those 30 yard diagonal crossfield balls to Steeeeve looked very good but I kept expecting Ramage to figure them out and intercept them, thankfully that kind of thinking seemed to be beyond him or anyone else in the Palace team. After that Morgan just bossed the game. No worries in this match and his tackling back was much better than it has been, he's been watching Deano (there are things to learn from the captain you know lostboy? ;-)), All in all a great game for him and one that should improve his confidence, as that improves I fully expect to see him doing this much more often this year. 9/10 "easy, easy etc etc" in the end probably a very obvious Man of the Match (although I have to say Corky did give him a run for his money).
Cork - I have to say I have not been massively impressed with him over the last few games, he started out well this season but has faded of late and has become somewhat "make up the numbers" which is unfortunate as he is a talented boy. Fortunately, and that's a very good time for Southampton, this game was a bit of a renaissance for him.
I still don't know why he doesn't get forward more as I know he can score goals but, that notwithstanding, an excellent midfield performance all over the park filling in where required and chasing back and tackling (always a bit of a problem for him in the past, not that he didn't try, just that he wasn't so effective before) made this important for Southampton and for him. 8/10, a very good foil for Morgan, Steeeeve, Richardson, Lallana, Guly, Lambert & anyone else who got involved, very well done and more to come I'm sure.
De Ridder - oh my goodness me, there it was, the player we hoped we would get when he was brought in as a replacement for Oxo during the summer… It was worth the wait! Not that there were things he couldn't do better, there were, some of his running was a bit dodgy and he did have a habit (which will be punished much more severely by better teams) of heading straight towards goal and expecting everyone to get out of his way and not tackle him. That notwithstanding, a brilliant performance from him helping out Richardson on the right and actually showing pace, not as much as I'd like but definite pace, maybe he was injured or just unfit when we first saw him? Whatever the case, a very good 8/10 for Steeeeve, that's the way to do it old son, much more of that please.
Guly - what did he do today, in some regards I'm not entirely sure, scored two goals, that's the obvious bit and he took them very well, however, the rest of his game felt "bitty" if you know what I mean? There were some good runs, there was some neat passing, there was even the occasional tackle, it's just that if he hadn't scored the goals would we be saying he had a good game? I'm not sure I can answer that unequivocally but for myself I feel he can do better. However, 8/10 simply because he did score the goals and we did win the game, in the end, you can't knock that…
Lambert - played well today without looking outstanding, the far post header very well saved by Speroni probably his only real chance of the game. His running was good and he spent a lot of time wide left and right trying to pull the central defence apart, he had some success but I still wish there was two of him just so he could be on the end of his own crosses sometimes (although they also weren't particularly effective today). I think by his standards quite a quiet game but then again, the others stepped up, he did enough and I hope he will be getting some support soon just so he can feel that he has some opportunity for rest somewhere during this year! 7/10, a good performance.
Connelly - I'm glad to see him back, I know he didn't get much opportunity to impress but every time I see him go on the park for us I feel we improve, his intelligence and work rate (for such a relatively fragile individual) is an inspiration and I'm glad he's building his fitness and sharpness levels back up to where they should be. One superb run when Lallana inexplicably decided not to pass the ball through was his only real showing but we will only get better with him available. 6 /10, he didn't have an opportunity to shine but did what he needed to do to start the climb back to the first team starting place he deserves.
Hammond - I bet some people were loving it when he came on for Morgan ;-) nevertheless, he did a good job just tidying up and steadying down and making sure that their last dying breath wasn't in any way painful for us. We didn't miss him today and he very probably needed the rest, I suspect he will be starting from the bench a bit more if Morgan can keep up this kind of performance level, even if that is the case though, I'll be pleased to see him there to make sure we can close things down or bring a bit of simplicity and physicality to things should it be required. 5/10, he didn't have enough time to do anything either good or bad, he just came on and saw the game out, just what he needed to do and no more.
A very good game from Southampton point of view, completely controlled throughout and even a couple of individual mistakes, which would be churlish to point out subsequent to a team showing this much control of a football match, didn't seem to shake Southampton from their purpose.
The team showed again that class and organisation that got us to the top of the table in the first half of this year, I think it was vital that this performance came today, coming as it did on the back of us basically giving away four points over the last couple of games and going even further back not looking the team we had been even if we got something from the games.
Some great individual performances and not from the usual suspects (well at least not all of them) made this a very enjoyable game for a Southampton fan to watch, as far as I'm concerned, this was football as it should be, we win and I don't sweat ;-)
Bristol City will be harder I'm sure but this gives us an excellent foundation going into that game on Friday night.
Attendance : 31,524
13 Fox (yellow card)
04 Schneiderlin (Hammond 87)
33 De Ridder (Connolly 79)
02 Clyne (yellow card)
05 McCarthy (yellow card)
38 Ramage (yellow card) (C Martin 66)
28 O'Keefe (Garvan 76)
17 Murray (Easter 83)
35 C Martin