Stoke v Saints
Capitol One Cup, Fourth Round
Britannia Stadium, Wednesday 29th October 2014
> Saints see off a physical Stoke
One of the joys of writing match reports for IBO, is that you don’t have to make any pretence at impartiality. That is probably just as well, as Stoke really were rather brutal in the second half during Wednesday night’s Capitol One Cup fourth round game at the Britannia stadium, so I don’t have to pretend that they played with any semblance of sportsmanship.
Having been comprehensively outplayed by Saints in the first half and two goals down (it should have been a lot more), Stoke came out with two ideas in their tiny heads, to go direct and to outmuscle Saints, with every snide trick in the book. This tactic unfortunately worked, to the extent that it got them two goals. Although, the seeds of their ultimate destruction was in this strongarm stuff.
Peter Crouch came on as a 73rd minute substitute and behaved like an overwound clockwork toy. It only took him a few minutes to get booked for one ridiculous challenge and almost immediately launched himself at Steven Davis, with studs up and almost at waist height, which deserved a straight red on it’s own. Instead he got a second yellow, followed by the inevitable red.
I had thought that Stoke played in this way because of their former manager, Tony Pulis, but this was obviously a team playing in the manner that Mark Hughes wanted. Fortunately they got what they deserved from this game. Nothing.
From the resulting free kick the ball fell to the feet of Graziano Pellè right in front of goal and from there the ball found it’s inevitable way to the back of the net. 2-3 with just one minute of normal time left. The referee, Lee Mason, added seven minutes of extra time, but the damage to Stoke was done.
After Saturday’s League match at St.Mary’s I was expecting another close match, but the manner in which Saints went at Stoke really surprised me. Essentially, Stoke were passed off the park. The changes to Saints team were pretty much as expected. Targett came in for Bernard at left back, Gardos for Alderweireld at centre back and Long for the injured Mané.
Within six minutes Saints had the lead and it was from a wonderful piece of play starting with Matt Targett barrelling down the left wing, looking up and spotting Pellè and slotting a pass to him, which the big Italian buried into the top corner of the goal from fully 20 yards out.
Saints second goal came on 30 minutes with a wonderful bit of interplay involving several players, but Davis found Shane Long, completely unmarked, in front of goal and the Irishman duly scored his first goal for Saints.
Frankly, Stoke were very much second best and Saints really ought to have scored more than those two goals in the first half. It was clear that Stoke were going to have to do something else in the second half and we all knew what that was going to be.
The first Stoke goal came from a shot by the French midfielder, N’Zonzi from some distance . At the time I thought that Forster should have got to it, but if you look on the highlights just above, I think he did well to get as close as he did.
Straight away Long was denied by an instinctive save from Begovic and the keeper was soon at it again, denying BigVic Wanyama.
Mark Hughes brought on a ridiculously wound up Crouch and the agricultural Charlie Adams and they helped fashion five successive corners, which ended with Diof heading Stoke’s second goal.
That was as good as it got for Stoke. This years version of Saints are made of sterner stuff and they won through, with another moment of magic from their Italian striker.
The Quarter Final draw took place after the match and Saints have now drawn Sheffield United away. Chelsea remain in the competition lurking just over the horizon, but for now, Stoke were a difficult game, safely negotiated.
Back to the league on Saturday then.
02 Bardsley - Booked
12 Wilson - Booked
20 Cameron (Adam 73' - Booked)
27 Krkic (Crouch 73' Dismissed after 2nd Yellow)
06 Fonte - Booked
05 Gardos (Alderweireld 92')
08 Davis (Cork 92')
19 Pellè - Booked
Post match interview with Ronald Koeman
Post match interview with Shane Long after his first Saints goal
Match highlights from Saints YouTube feed
- Zonzi 49′
- Diouf 82′
- Pellè 6′, 89′
- Long 30′
- Stoke 51%
- Southampton 49%
- Stoke 12
- Southampton 12
- Stoke 3
- Southampton 5
- Stoke 11
- Southampton 6
- Stoke 17
- Southampton 11
Referee: Lee Mason
Graziano Pellè 6’, 89’
Shane Long 30’