Sky Bet Championship
St.Mary's - 6.00pm

Southampton 2

  • Alcaraz 56'
  • Adams 63'

Plymouth Argyle 1

  • Hardie 90'+1

IBO Reporter: Spot51


Before the Festive four games in 10 days, I said I’d take 10 points but wanted 12. So far, so good. Six points from the first two games and a winnable home game with Plymouth before the trickier visit to Carrow Road at New Year.

Our 16-game unbeaten run has repaired the damage inflicted on our goal difference in early Autumn, and our last 8 home games have garnered 22 of 24 points, with West Brom the last side to score here in November. Since then, our last four games have seen 12 goals scored and none conceded.

Russ may make changes for Argyle and look to bring off his better performers ASAP with one eye on Monday. He let the clutch out on Tuesday at two up by bringing off Downes and fielding six attackers who added three more goals.

With Steve Schumacher jumping ship for Stoke, Argyle’s DoF Neil Dewsnip is currently in charge of the first team, and they drew 3-3 with Wayne Rooney’s Brum last Saturday, then a 2-2 draw at Cardiff on Tuesday. Their only loss this month was 4-0 at Leicester.

Team News

Saints made four changes, with Che, Shea, Will and Charley coming in, replacing the whole midfield 3 and Jack, who returned to the bench. This meant KWP returned to right back, and AA and Edozie flanked Che upfront.

Plymouth made five changes. Whittaker’s brace at Cardiff lifts him to 12 goals, and he loves to cut in from the right flank and shoot with his left. I hope our defenders know this. Plymouth have not won away in this Division. The Home Table sees them 6th, but Away, they lie 22nd.

This match gets the proper Sky Sports treatment (after the sodding ”red button” games) with Prutts and a sofa full of pundits watching our game, then straight on to Baggies v Leeds. The commentator was Gary Taphouse, assisted by EFL pundit Don Goodman. Having a professional calling the game resulted in us learning that Saints longest unbeaten run was 19 games in the old Div 3 South 102 years ago.

Our Ref is James Linington.

Embed from Getty Images

Charlie Alcaraz after scoring Saints first goal on 56 minutes

Match Report

|Plymouth wore a largely white changed strip and kicked off towards the Chapel End. I was struggling to work out their formation as they usually go 3-4-3 but had too many defenders out there. As the game developed, they sank back into 5-4-1 with just Waine as a lone attacker.

Our first attack saw AA trying to find Will, but the white blockade snuffed it out. Plymouth’s captain, Edwards, had the unenviable task of marking Edozie, and he stopped the winger’s first foray at the expense of a corner.

Ché stuck the ball in the goal on 5m but was flagged offside. Moments later, Bedders found AA in the centre circle. He spotted Hazard off his line and lobbed the ball past the backtracking keeper, but it landed atop the net.

It was all Southampton. We dominated possession, and the commentators were impressed with how quickly we won the ball back, usually in the Plymouth half. To be fair, Plymouth were defending well. They had plenty back but tracked runs and moved into space so that we created little.

KWP put a pass just in front of Che, Smallbone had a cross blocked, and when KWP was able to get a shot away, Hazard made a routine save. A better chance came on 10m when Edozie and AA found Charley. The Argentinian turned sharply, then put a right-foot shot just past the post. That was close! The possession for the first 10m showed 81% Saints!

I may be old and daft, but not so I’d miss the verbal faux-pas from Mr Taphouse when he called KWP Wright-Phillips. Really? He got the name right soon after when Mumba was booked for a foul on our right back.

Ché had a shot blocked on 13m, and we then won a corner on the right. A Plymouth head sent it out for a corner from the other side. Manning curled it onto the head of THB, near post, and his downward header struck the far past, and no one could put in the rebound.

Saints continued to dominate, and next to try his luck was Manning with a shot that flew wide. After a rare and unproductive Plymouth foray into our half, it was KWP next up, and his shot drew a diving save from Hazard. The officials were having a mare. On 25m, Ché was again flagged offside, but replays showed he was well onside. FFS!

We continued to lay siege to their box but without success. Smallbone tried to pick out Charley but his chip was just too long. When Galloway conceded a corner our short corner routine gave them possession but the breakaway was ended by Waine handling the ball.

Another period of brisk passing led to a Smallbone chance but a Plymouth body blocked his effort. The commentators were impressed at our ability to win the ball back quickly and Plymouth rarely carried the ball over halfway before we’d won it back. The only breathers they got were when the ref gave them free kicks for imagined fouls.

KWP engineered a chance for Charley on 39m but this too was blocked. Our following attack was halted by another shocking offside call on Edozie. Then Will was booked for a foul on Mumba. KWP then won another corner, but this again led to a Plymouth breakaway.

This one got beyond halfway, and Azaz found Whittaker on the right. Edozie had tracked the striker the length of the pitch and ensured he did not cut in onto his left before executing a timely block to concede a corner. As always, they looked for Whittaker, but his effort was blocked.

Manning was carded for a trip on Azaz. From the free kick, Edwards set up Waine, but his ghastly effort was high and wide as +2m was announced. We mustered another chance before the break, KWP finding Che, but his tame effort was saved. Half time - and still 0-0…

Russ resisted making substitutions, but Plymouth hooked “Billy No-Mates” Waine and brought on Ryan Hardie, who was more likely to keep the ball when it was played up to him. Saints continued to get forward, but Manning’s first attempted cross was sliced horribly behind the goal.

Edozie had a shot blocked before KWP won a corner off Galloway. Plymouth did not get this one clear, and Will was able to find Charley, but his shot went wide. The officials got another decision wrong when a driven cross spun behind, off a defender, and the twats gave a goal kick. Our next two attempts were headers: Edozie’s was blocked, and AA stuck his wide.

A rare excursion into our half saw Plymouth get a corner off Manning. Not for the first time was the ball played to Whittaker, who, not for the first time, struck it awry. Soon after, Hardie went past THB as he tried to break away. Our guy took him out but escaped a booking. Charley got one though, for kicking the ball away - plain daft.

From the free kick, Whittaker got to the right by-line before cutting back and crossing to the far post. Mumba met it with a header - 0-1 with their first effort on target.

Or was it? The lino had his flag up, and the referee indicated offside. Replays suggested Bednarek was playing Mumba onside, but these officials had got little right so far, and this was yet another error. On the touchline, the away coaches saw the replays on their iPads and were furious, but the lack of professionalism from their players made them even angrier.

Saints took the free kick and moved the ball into Plymouth’s half. The ref followed play pursued by a number of Argyle players bitching about his decision. For the first time, Plymouth didn't have ten guys behind the ball, and Edozie exploited the opportunity by playing the ball left to Charley. He cut inside onto his right before curling a beautiful shot beyond Hazard’s dive, 1-0 Saints.

Black looks from the away dugout were justified, but their team had broken rule 1 of football by not playing to the whistle. The protests continued, but, as the commentator pointed out, they were hardly going to change their decision now. Edwards got himself booked as well.

One advantage of camping in the other team’s half is that your centre-backs become the axis around which attacks are built, and if these guys can play a bit, they can directly open up defences. Bedders hit a lovely dinked pass on 58m, which Will headed just wide. AA then set up Ché, but his tame effort was easily saved by Hazard.

Just past the hour, our other centre-back picked out Che’s run from deep, and this time, he got beyond his marker, held him off and prodded the ball past the keeper. 2-0 Saints. THB looked as pleased as the scorer.

Cue substitutions: Argyle replaced Houghton and Mumba with Cundle and Miller before Russ swapped his two scorers with Fraser and Aribo and Will by Curly Stu. These guys were right at it, with Stu setting up Joe to fire past the left post. That action left Pleguezuelo injured. Unable to continue, the defender was replaced by Dan Scarr.

Apart from retrieving the ball from behind him, Baz had little to do since halftime but was alert enough to win a footrace with Hardie when a hopeful ball got the centre forward interested. Joe then found AA, whose shot was saved by Hazard. At the next break in play, Edozie was replaced by Mara.

On 76m, Stu was fouled by Randell, and he and Manning stood on either side of the dead ball. Maybe Manning should have taken it, as Stu’s effort was off-target. Plymouth then sent on Bundo for Azaz. Stu and Mara worked their way down the right, but the young Frenchman’s cross was claimed by the hard-working Hazard.

Jack then came off the bench and took the armband as AA left the field. He did his faux-right-back thing for the rest of the game, and this allowed KWP to move into midfield. He looks like a fish out of water on the wing but showed that, with his football nous, centre midfield could be an option for him. He was caught offside shortly after moving, so he needs to get his bearings sorted when inside the game.

Saints tried to bag a third. Joe had an effort blocked, and KWP created a decent chance for Mara, but Plymouth were defending in numbers again, and Scarr deflected it out for a corner. Manning’s corner came over and was met by Charles, but his header hit a white shirt. The stadium announcer gave the attendance as 30559.

Plymouth beat our press in the last minute, and Hardie won a corner off Jack. They again got the ball to Whittaker, who put it in the crowd again. Six added minutes were entered with Saints playing the ball out of defence. Jack was injured as our defence learned to do this without cock-ups, and his bobbling back-pass to Baz was nasty.

Baz took two touches to control the ball, and the eager Hardie was onto him. The Keeper tried to clear, but the ball struck the forward’s boot and might have gone anywhere. Of course, it nestled in the corner and had the commentators rabbiting about an added-time Plymouth comeback.

That did not happen. Saints moved forward, and Stu set up Fraser, whose effort cannoned off Scarr for our 9th corner. Plymouth got that clear, but back we came, KWP finding Fraser, who forced another smart save from Hazard down by his post. Charles then created a chance for Mara, which, for the umpteenth time, was blocked.

Don Goodman made Charley MotM as his splendid strike got the game moving in the 2nd half. In the dying seconds, Hardie, who’d done well since coming on, set up another Whittaker shot from range, and it went into the crowd like most of his earlier efforts.

The whistle ended a strange game which we’d totally dominated, but the 2-1 scoreline seemed like a scant reward. Still, 9 points from 9 keeps the festive pot boiling nicely with the tricky visit to Norwich up next.

Man Of The Match

You have to say Plymouth came here to defend and did it well. On the occasions we got through their back 9, Hazard was having a blinder. Two of his saves were exceptional, and that stopped us from getting another big festive victory.

Most of our players did okay, but a few stood out. AA put in another decent shift, and Charley’s lovely strike was the highlight of the evening. This may get boring by the season’s end, but my view is our best performer was Wright Phillips: sorry, Walker-Peters, again. I love watching that guy!



  • 31 Bazunu
  • 2 Walker-Peters
  • 21 Harwood-Bellis
  • 35 Bednarek
  • 3 Manning - Booked 44'
  • 16 Smallbone - Booked 40' (S Armstrong 68')
  • 24 Charles
  • 22 Alcaraz - Booked 55' (Aribo 68')
  • 9 A Armstrong (Stephens 82')
  • 23 Edozie (Mara 75')
  • 10 Adams (Fraser 68')


  • 5 Stephens
  • 6 Holgate
  • 7 Aribo
  • 13 Lumley
  • 17 S Armstrong
  • 18 Mara
  • 26 Fraser
  • 27 Amo-Ameyaw
  • 33 Dibling

Plymouth Argyle

  • 21 Hazard
  • 8 Edwards - Booked 57'
  • 5 Pleguezuelo (Scarr 71')
  • 17 Gibson
  • 22 Galloway
  • 2 Mumba - Booked 13' (Miller 65')
  • 10 Whittaker
  • 4 Houghton (Cundle 66')
  • 20 Randell
  • 18 Azaz (Bundu 78')
  • 23Waine (Hardie 45')


  • 6 Scarr
  • 7 Butcher
  • 9 Hardie
  • 11 Wright
  • 14 Miller
  • 15 Bundu
  • 25 Burton
  • 28 Cundle
  • 29 Kesler-Hayden

Match Stats

  • Southampton/Plymouth Argyle
  • Possession: 78%/22%
  • Shots: 26/8
  • Shots on Target: 7/1
  • Corners: 9/3
  • Fouls: 8/8


  • Referee: James Linington
  • Assistants: Andrew Fox, Alex James
  • Fourth official: Sam Allison
  • Attendance: 30,559


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