Southampton v Norwich
St.Mary's - Wednesday, 18th January 2017
> Saints defence hardly troubled
> A wretched game for the spectator
> A gate of only 13,517 tells it's own story
IBO Reporter : Mandochris
Lewis Keeps a Clean Sheet as Long Overdue Injury Time Goal Puts Saints Through
It was a difficult start to the match: no streams and silence from the Saints OS Radio Solent link. After 20 minutes a tweet announces that they are aware of the commentary problem and hope to have it up and working “very soon” (one of those useful expressions that doesn’t really tell you anything - in the end it started to work at the end of the first half).
So, I start following the OS message service, which puts something up every 3 minutes, and the IBO chat room, which is essentially a bunch of us scrambling around trying to find out what’s going on and where we can follow the game. Plymouth v Liverpool is the only game being covered live - on both TV (BT Sport) and radio (R5L), which is typically unhelpful.
In the end, we learn that the game is on 5LX. So I tune in to find there has been more excitement in searching how to follow the game than in the game itself, as that familiar sense of frustration and anger that only computers can generate started to well up inside me.
For the first few minutes of commentary, such is the excitement at SMS that I hear about Liverpool taking the lead at Plymouth and about Newcastle taking the lead at home to Birmingham, before I learn anything about this game. This, I suppose, in itself tells you all you need to know about the game so far.
So. The game! Predictably Puel made several changes with Stephens, McQueen, Sims, Reed, JWP all playing from the Academy, and with Lewis in goal (can we call him one of ours yet?).
The team was captained by Maya Yoshida, with JayRod and Long starting together and Clasie pulling the strings in midfield with Reed. Martina was at right back.
It seems that JWP and Clasie were putting some decent balls into the box but, according to Claridge, Saints aren’t thinking smart and no-one is on the end of them. Maybe it’s because JayRod and Long aren’t sure where they are supposed to be playing or what their job is - that seems to be the opinion of Claridge, who is oftentimes bewildered by the spectacle and tactics (or lack of them) in front of him. His bewilderment reaches a climax when Romeu comes on for Reed: why bring on a defensive midfielder in a game where Norwich are posing zero threat (they didn’t have one shot on target all night) and when we need to spice up the attack to win the game? He was actually laughing at us live on radio - and I don’t think it was because he is Pompey, just bewildered.
“And the referee blows for half time.” The commentary reaches fever pitch for the first time in the game. I have to confess that I fell asleep for 15 minutes at the start of the second half. But don’t worry, I didn’t miss anything.
Just as we all feared another 30 minutes of this drab affair, Long came up with a scruffy goal in the 92nd minute - a true reflection of the kind of game it had been. Well, the game did need a goal to spark it into life but it would have helped if it had come 70 minutes earlier.
What of our kids? It seems that Reed committed a lot of fouls and got away with most of them (“that one must be a yellow, surely? Oh no, the ref hasn’t given it!”), before being hauled off for Romeu. I’m not sure that Stephens got a mention. Claridge was quite impressed by McQueen and Sims, although at times I was getting the sense that Sims was not having a great game. Redmond seemed to make a difference when he came on against his old club and Lewis did keep a clean sheet (his first in his second start) - although that appeared to be more down to Norwich’s lack of adventure.
Saints had a chance to learn something useful against lower league opposition and Puel spurned it by resting most of the first team, and those selected spurned it by failing to ignite any sort of passion. Oh dear.
It’s not all bad: now we have a semi final second leg to look forward to at Anfield and a 4th round tie at home to Arsenal. I am not sure exactly if “looking forward” is the right mindset. After all, it does seem that Saints have gone backwards since the start of the season where we showed so much promise of exciting football to come under Puel. At £12 a ticket, I do wonder if that was worth it.
But that’s football. I shall watch, listen and join the chat room in the hope that we will find that magic spark and put on a great show.
Puel Post Match
"Our first half did not have a good enough rhythm, and it was important in the second half to control the game and the ball. Of course, we should have scored before we did, but we prevented extra-time and this is important for the recovery of the players. All the players kept a good attitude, with good concentration. We gave no chances to the opponent during the whole 90 minutes, and in the second half we had many opportunities.
We were perhaps unlucky, or not clinical enough, but the most important thing was to qualify."
18 Reed (Romeu 71')
9 Rodriguez (Redmond 70')
31 Murphy (Murphy 73')
35 Godfrey (Grant 86')
19 Lafferty (Canos 80')
Wed, 18th Jan 2017
Third Round - Replay
Referee : Jonathan Moss
Attendance : 13,517
Shots on Target