Saints v Crystal Palace
FA Cup, Round 4
St.Mary’s, Saturday 24th January 2015
> Shane Long suffers suspected broken rib
> Now to focus on the League
This was a strange game from the moment we entered the stadium. The crowd looked like a normal league crowd, even down to the numerical split in the Northam between the away and home fans. However, I was quickly aware that the area I normally sit in is 99.9% season ticket holders, but there were very few faces around me that I recognised. These fans also seemed unable to remain in the area of their seats for very long and there was a constant stream of people going to and from the concourse. On top of that, there seemed to be a fair few only too willing to share their insightful opinion with anyone within earshot, such as the person two rows behind me that insisted on repeatedly telling everyone that Pellè was a donkey and never contributes anything. This carried on, even after Pellè scored the games first goal. Unbelievable.
Koeman fielded what on paper, looked a decent side, although stripped of several first choices through injury. The first surprise came with Saints losing the coin toss and Palace choosing to play towards the Northam end. From the off Saints looked threatening, but then so did Palace, with both sides making mistakes in defence. Palace in particular were playing three up top in Sanogo, Chamakh and Campbell, with Zaha just behind them.
It did not take long for the breakthrough to come. Inside ten minutes Saints won a corner after some great build up play from Ward-Prowse, Elia and Davis. From the corner Ward-Prowse swung the ball into the far post area, where Pellè wasted little time in sweeping it into the net. 1-0 and I thought, the beginning of a long afternoon for Palace.
Wrong. It was the beginning of a truly bizarre ten minutes, with another three goals scored.
Barely three minutes elapsed, before Forster showed his now almost characteristic hesitancy, when he palmed out a shot from Sanogo, right into the path of Chamakh, who made no mistake in levelling the score. 1-1.
Saints went straight up to the Chapel end and in less than five minutes we were treated to the sight of Scott Dann scoring a truly wonderful own goal. 2-1. You couldn't get a better header than that.
The persistent attacking and comedy defending continued, with Saints paying the price for allowing Zaha room to pass to Sanogo, who was right on the penalty spot and duly drove the equaliser home. 2-2 and barely 20 minutes gone.
I remember thinking that this couldn't continue, but it did, with both Ward-Prowse and Pellè having decent chances to take the lead again. The Saints defence however, looked panic stricken, communication was non-existant and this was certainly not something that we have been used to seeing this season. Every time the Palace forwards attacked it looked like they would score and they duly did when that man Chamakh found himself one on one with Forster. The Saints goalie committed himself and there looked to be some sort of collision, but the end result was the ball in the net again. 2-3.
I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else, but just after this, Davis was summoned from the bench and got into his goalies jersey in the tunnel, ready for action and he remained like that for several minutes, before changing back into his training gear.
Three goals conceded. Devastating. The only other team to achieve that this season was Manchester City. There was clearly something seriously wrong. Ten minutes to go to half time and a porous defence. Who was to say that things would not get worse for Saints?
Somehow Saints managed to cling on without conceding again and half time duly arrived to the relief of most of the Saints fans. Well, those that were actually watching the match and not playing games on their smartphones, or running up and down to/from the concourse.
When the teams came out for the second half, there was no sign of Gardoş and he had been replaced by Targett. Targett slotted straight into the left back position and Bertrand took up the left sided centre back position. Immediately it was clear that this had solved the moments of blind panic in the defence.
However, I remained convinced that Cork was the weak link in midfield, apart from just strolling through the game, missing tackles and passes, left, right and centre, he was giving no cover at all to Gardoş in that first half. I am sure that Gardoş will be good in time, as he was excellent in the Manchester United away game, but this will have done his confidence no good at all.
Having seen that the first change had worked, Koeman then hauled off Cork, sending on Long. Ward-Prowse dropped back to take up Corks position and Long went up to the sharp end with Pellè. Long immediately started to look threatening and the crowd sensed that this game was not lost yet.
Unfortunately, the Irish No.7 did not last very long. Just ten minutes after coming on he was involved in a coming together with Ward, right on the edge of their penalty area. He did not get up and the trainer came on and immediately signalled for a substitution. Long was led off holding his arm and it later turned out that the club doctor suspected a fractured rib and sent him straight to hospital.
Long was replaced by Ryan Seager for the remaining 20 minutes and the youngster immediately got stuck into the Palace defence. Saints upped the tempo and Elia went close when a glorious shot seemed destined for the top left corner, when Hennessy seemingly appeared from nowhere and tipped the ball over the bar. Both sets of fans tried to lift their teams and when the fourth official held up the board for no less than 6 minutes of extra time, the noise became deafening.
Saints just could not find a way through the Palace defence and the final whistle signalled wild celebrations in the away end.
I can't help feeling that if Saints had started with the line up they had for just ten minutes, after Long came on and before he was injured, then the game might just have had a different outcome.
Still, we have the League to concentrate on now.
25th January 2015
02 Clyne - Booked
05 Gardos - Booked (Targett 45' - Booked)
06 Fonte - Booked
18 Cork (Long - 59' (Seager 72'))
10 Campbell (Murray 81')
29 Chamakh - Booked (Puncheon 64')
09 Sanogo (Mariappa 78')
Post match interview with Ronald Koeman on the defeat and Long’s injury
Steven Davis on the disappointment of his 100th game for Saints
- Pellè 9′
- Dann 16′ (og)
Crystal Palace 3
- Chamakh 11′, 39′
- Sanogo 21′
FT 90 +7
- Southampton 64%
- Crystal Palace 36%
- Southampton 11
- Crystal Palace 10
- Southampton 3
- Crystal Palace 5
- Southampton 5
- Crystal Palace 3
- Southampton 13
- Crystal Palace 10
Referee : Jonathan Moss
Attendance : 31,320
Saints scorer, Graziano Pellè - 9’