• Lambert 30 • Lambert 90+3
• Basham 36 • McManaman 49
Saturday, 10th December 2011
Match Report :
Well, that was the winning record gone then, but at least we didn't lose and we are still top of the league, by three points now, courtesy of West Ham losing 3-0 at Reading.
I have seen a lot of nonsense talked in the aftermath to this game, a lot of it from the eternally whinging Holloway. First of all, he goes on about the referee adding five minutes of extra time. Well, Mr.H, you have only yourself to blame for that. I lost count of the number of times the referee warned Blackpool for time-wasting.
The next thing was that he was trying to claim that Blackpool had the majority of the possession. I am sorry, but the stats just do not bear that out.
Again he was claiming that Blackpool spent the game attacking Saints, rather than defending deep. Apart from having a tiny element of truth, the stats again show that they were not very effective, having only 4 shots on target for the whole game. Saints on the other hand had 9 shots on target.
Just about the only thing that he could have claimed, but didn't, was that Blackpool got 2 goals from 4 attempts, as opposed to Saints 2 goals from 9 attempts. Mind you, even then Saints had to help Blackpool, with Bart allowing a tame shot to somehow wriggle past him.
Talking of Bart, that was the one piece of news that came from nowhere before the game. Kelvin Davis had apparently picked up a groin injury in training and was sitting in the stands. It was however, a welcome sight to see Rickie Lambert back after his 'hip scenario' (according to Adkins!). Saints certainly missed him at Doncaster.
The only unusual thing was that there was no reserve keeper on the bench. Tommy Forecast, who is the only other senior keeper, is on loan at Blue Square South side Bromley.
Other than that, the team was pretty much as expected.
From the kickoff it became clear that all was not well with Bart, as he made a routine stop into a full scale drama, by choosing to chest out the ball rather than seemingly taking the easier option of catching it. From that moment on the Saints defence looked increasingly nervous, every time the ball went anywhere near Bart.
Having said that, Blackpool seemed to threaten little, apart from some nice build up play. The first goal for Saints came on the half hour, when a nice bit of interplay between Lallana, Cork and Lambert, ended up with the ball taking a deflection off the unfortunate Cathcart and past the Blackpool keeper, Gilks.
Six minutes later Blackpool were level again with a strange goal. The entire Saints team seemed to stop and watch Basham head past Bialkowski. The Saints goalie was in no way responsible for that.
A short while after, Bart watched Phillips (no, not that one) shoot at goal, expecting it to go well wide, but it didn't. Instead the shot cannoned against the far post and I guess it was a relieved Bialkowski who saw the ball rebound into play.
Half time came and we hoped that someone would put an arm around Bart's shoulder and give him some words of encouragement.
Any thoughts that this would improve things were dispelled four minutes after the start of the second half, when McManaman scuffed a shot at goal and turned away to run back. What he didn't see at the time, was the ball somehow bounce underneath Bart and gently roll across the line, leaving Bart on his knees with his head in his hands.
After this setback Adkins, Crosby and Wilkins spent several minutes in a huddle, at the end of which Adkins urgently waved Harding back, who had been warming up.
They spent a while giving him and De Ridder instructions before we had a double substitution, with Harding replacing Fox and De Ridder replacing Hammond. The Saints middle was now Cork and Schneiderlin.
This worked, as it allowed both Richardson and Harding more room to come forward into the space being made by Lallana and De Ridder. Saints looked far more effective, even though De Ridder somehow contrived to mess up a good chance, when the simpler option would have been to pass to a line of Saints players in front of goal.
Saints really had their tails up now and when the fourth official held up the board showing five minutes of extra time the crowd went ballistic. The inevitable goal came from a Richardson cross and once again, that man Lambert was on hand to nod home his sixteenth goal of the season (including two Carling Cup goals).
A draw seemed about right, but with even an average performance from Bart, I felt that we would have won it, but that's football.
Portsmouth away next Sunday then ....
13 Fox (Harding 63)
04 Schneiderlin (yellow card)
14 Hammond (De Ridder 63)
07 Lambert (yellow card)
03 Harding, 16 Martin, 28 Reeves, 24 Holmes, 33 De Ridder
06 Evatt (yellow card)
17 Basham (yellow card) (LuaLua 82)
16 Ferguson (yellow card)
23 M Phillips (Ince 90+1)
39 McManaman (K Phillips 75)
29 Howard, 31 Angel, 09 K Phillips, 36 Ince, 38 LuaLua