• Lambert (pen) 22 • Lambert (pen) 55 • Guly 70 • Holmes 88
Saturday, 1st October 2011
Match Report :
I enjoyed this game more than any for several years and yet it started so unpromisingly.
Hammond was recalled to the starting line-up and Steve De Ridder made his first start, as Schneiderlin dropped to the bench and Connolly was rested, although there was mention of a slight hamstring issue in his case.
Watford had clearly done their homework and watched the Cardiff game where Saints had been harried and hustled out of their normal gameplan. They then set about doing exactly the same thing. Saints spent an uncomfortable twenty minutes trying to cope with Watford's energetic and (whisper it) successful harrying. During this time Davis made a couple of fine saves and there could have been few complaints if they had been at least one up..
And so we arrived at the twenty-second minute, when De Ridder whipped a smart cross over to the waiting Lambert at the far post. He had the close attentions of two Watford defenders and the three of them collided and went down in a heap. After a slight pause the referee, Mr Boyeson, pointed at the penalty spot indicating handball. Lambert duly stepped up and dispatched the penalty. It was only later that photographs were to be seen, clearly showing that it was actually Lambert's hand that hit the ball ...
From here on in though, Watford hardly had a look in and the longer the game went on, the more Saints controlled the game.
There were two great chances for Saints in the remainder of the first half. The first was a header from a free kick that Lambert should really have scored from and a Lallana shot that rattled the bar.
Although Watford changed personnel in the midfield at the break, it had precisely zero effect on Saints control of midfield and they continued to put pressure on the Watford penalty area. The main difference from Saints point of view, was that the two full backs, Fox and Richardson came more into the game as an attacking force. Richardson in particular was like a man possessed down the right wing, causing panic in the Watford defence almost every time he went forward.
Ten minutes after the restart came a wonderful passage of play, started by the ever enigmatic Guly and also involving De Ridder and finally Richardson.
His pinpoint cross was aimed at Lambert, lurking at the far post. Unfortunately, by the time the ball arrived Rickie was was flat out in the penalty area, where he had been hauled by Mariappa. Penalty, no question. Duly dispatched by Rickie himself. 2-0.
Watford responded by using their last two available substitutes to freshen up the attack. It made little difference.
Shortly after that Chaplow was brought on for De Ridder and it paid immediate dividends. You always know when Chappers is about when he comes on as a sub, as he appears to be everywhere at once. The uncertainty was taken advantage of by Lallana down the right and sent the ball in across the face of the Watford penalty area, to be met by Guly. In what seemed to be slow motion, everyone seemed to be watching what he was going to do. As it turned out he did the simple thing and side footed it into the Watford goal. 3-0.
Schneiderlin came on for Cork in the 73rd minute when Saints were in complete control. From this point until the end of the match, it was a mystery to me how Saints didn't manage to score at least another three goals, such was their dominance. there was one amazing sequence involving that man Richardson again and Chaplow, finishing with Chappers fizzing a shot goalwards. Although it didn't go in, the crowd and the Saints bench both applauded a wonderful move, with Watford players vainly chasing the proverbial shadows.
Lallana went off on 86 minutes to a standing ovation from the crowd, to be replaced by Holmes. Within two minutes of being on the pitch Holmes found the ball at his feet and ran at goal .. and kept running, finally hitting a sweet left footed shot beyond the Watford goalie. 4-0.
That effectively was that and the Watford fans were streaming towards the exits.
So, Saints head into the international break sat proudly two points clear at the top pf the Championship. This also marks Nigel Adkins year in charge and how things have changed since then, haven't they? There will be times when things do not go so smoothly, but after the collective miseries of the last few years, I am going to make the most of this, while it lasts!
Referee : Boyeson
08 Cork (yellow card) (Schneiderlin 73)
20 Lallana (Holmes 86)
33 De Ridder (Chaplow 64)
06 Mariappa (yellow card)
07 Yeates (Deeney 56)
32 Hogg (Jenkins 46)
20 Sordell (Iwelumo 61)