Monday, 19 December 2016

Saints too powerful for energy-sapped Cherries 1-3

Match Report
AFCB 1 v 3 Southampton
18 December 2016
Attendance: 11,113
The Saints came to put some Christmas gloss on their season.
The Saints won this game rather than AFCB throwing it away. There was not much to choose between the sides early on when AFCB raced into an early lead with a Nathan Aké diving header at the far post, but within eight minutes Ryan Betrand had wriggled his way past AFCB's right side defence and buried hits shot in the far corner to level things. Neither side could keep the ball well and it was a scrappy affair. It would come down to the second half and the Saints simply had more energy that was helped in large part by the introduction of Steven Davis in midfield who ignited the Saints' charge and danced through the Bournemouth defence to give an easy tap in for Rodriguez. The Cherries looked out of sorts and fragile and they were condemned to only their third home league defeat by a stunning Rodriguez individual goal with five minutes to go.
There was only one change to the AFCB line up with Benik Afobe moving to the bench to be replaced by Josh King, while Ryan Fraser made it back to the bench.

The Saints made six changes to their side that played Stoke and their captain José Fonte was dropped to the bench while Harrisson Reed made his first start for this season. Also starting were Maya Yashida, Jordy Claisse, Pierre-Eile Højbjerg and Cédric.
AFCB greet the Saints. 
There are more pictures on Match Day Gallery.

The Saints had a special white kit, so as not to clash with AFCB's home kit and they began quickly winning an early corner off of Adam Smith. A second corner followed off of Charlie Daniels as the visitors ramped up the pressure. This one was worrying too as Boruc had to scramble to his near post and catch the ball before it swung across his goal line.

Danger averted AFCB went straight up the other end and won their first corner off of a deflected Simon Francis cross. Jack Wilshere put in a deep cross and Natan Aké had managed to escape his market and stooped to put in a diving header at the fir post on seven minutes - 1-0 to the Cherries.

That calmed the home crowd down and got the singing going "The South coast is ours!" Things were not looking that satisfactory though at the back. Adam Smith was clattering his clearances against opposing players and the free kicks were just putting more pressure on AFCB's defence.

A strong run by Daniels led to a shot come cross by Marc Pugh to the far post, but it just dropped over the corner of the goal.

The Saints were to come back quickly though with Ryan Betrand taking on Adam Smith at right back. He skinned him and entered the box taking on Francis, who he also slithered past and opened himself up for the shot across the keeper and easily found the far corner to bring the scores level.

He wound up the North Stand with his antics and celebration but go a fair amount of stick back from the home crowd.

The mistakes were coming think and fast with Arter and Wilshere messing up on the edge of the box as Sofiane Boufal sole in and brought a good save from Artur Boruc. Straight up the other end and, Pugh saw his shot deflect over. Harrison Reed was having a traumatic time giving the ball away and at one point King capitalised on his mistake and almost got Wilson in on goal but Fraser Forster recovered the situation. 

Jack Wilshere was receiving a lot of the ball but Wilson and King were not making the runs to stretch the Saints' defence. It was all too static. Worse still, Southampton were now getting down the right side and Boufal crossed for Francis to just do enough to clear before Jay Rodriguez could get a toe to it. Saint's shooting was not hot anyway when they did see the goal, as demonstrated when Nathan Redmond smashed his shot well over.

Mark Clattenburg was letting a lot of fouls go without giving yellow cards, but it was stop start for much of this first half.

Ryan Betrand was a constant problem on the left wing and he pulled back a great shooting opportunity for Redmond who opened his foot up and sliced it wide out to the right wing when Boruc had expected to have to make a save.

Boufal received the first card for his simulation after a good tackle by Jack Wilshere on 34 minutes. The play was really poor though and both teams were finding it hard to string any passes together for long.  Even when Pugh beat Cedric and got his cross in, Wilson could only head the ball into Forster's arms. A scoreline of 1-1 at half time was perhaps fair, but the Cherries 
Nothing to choose between the sides.
Second half
The occasion had perhaps proved too much for the debutant Harrison Reed who was subbed at half time for Steven Davis to make an impact. He did just that winning balls in midfield and charging forward with purpose. AFCB just looked half a pace slower than him.

The poor start to this half began with a sloppy header from Simon Francis into the path of Nathan Redmond, who brought a good stave out of Boruc. Following a throw the Saints pushed forward again and a quick Boufal one-two with Steven Davis on the edge of the box saw AFCB's defence opened up and he shot across the box, and it fell kindly for Jay Rodriguez to tap in a 1-2 lead for the visitors.

AFCB replied with a Pugh cross that Wilson headed right at the keeper. AFCB were losing possession in dangerous places now, and Aké was having to do more and more covering work. 

A decent break by King led to Wilson shoot his effort over. It didn't seem like it would be AFCB's lucky day for number 13.

The first AFCB sub was Ryan Fraser who replaced Marc Pugh on 55 minutes. Rodriguez was looking strong now having got a goal and was keeping Steve Cook honest.

Dusan Tadic replaced Boufal on 61 minutes and Callum Wilson was subbed for Afobe minutes later.
It was Steven Davis that was leading the game though and the Saints good play. He upped the intensity when AFCB started to flag. Højbjerg went very close to extending Saint's lead but for Aké's goal line clearance. The best AFCB fans could hope for was a half hearted shout of handball by Betrand in the box, AFCB hadn't posed any threat to Forster in the second half.

Jordan Ibe added more pace to the side, replacing Josh King as Howe sought away back into the game that was rapidly disappearing. While yellow cards were handed out to Claise and Davis, it wasn't slowing the Saints down. Redmond was next to shoot over.

Fraser was putting crosses across the box, but there were no other AFCB players gambling on it. The game was finally killed when a simple throw in that AFCB did not get tight to saw Rodriguez gather the ball and turn and shoot in one movement from the edge of the box to see his shot dip past Boruc and into the top left corner of the goal -1-3. 

Boruc had to make another low save to his left from van Dyke in the closing minutes. Shane Long replaced Rodriguez in time added on, and AFCB's last attempt by Steve Cook landed somewhere in the North stand.

While it is easy to say three games in eight days did for the Cherries, it was up to Edie Howe to decide if players needed more rest instead of this game. The Saints rotated, while the Cherries didn't, and while that was not crucial first half, when Steven Davis came on the game was only going one way as the Saints suddenly found they could retain the ball better and start running directly at AFCB's defence. The energy in AFCB's side wasn't there and the side was a shadow of that one that had beaten the Champions less than a week ago.
A good day for the Saints.
Boruc, Francis, Cook, Aké, Daniels, Wilshere, Arter, A Smith, King (Ibe 72), Pugh (Fraser 55), Wilson (Afobe 64)

Federici, Mings, B Smith, Gosling, Afobe, Ibe, Fraser,

AFCB Ratings
Boruc 6, Francis 5, Cook 7, Aké 8, Daniels 6, Wilshere 7, Arter 5, A Smith 5, King 5, Pugh 5,
Wilson 5

Forster, Soares, Yoshida, van Dijk, Bertrand, Højbjerg, Reed (Davis 46), Clasie, Redmond
Rodriguez (Long), Boufal (Tadic)

Saints Subs
Taylor, Fonte, Long, Davis, Tadic, Martina, Ward-Prowse

Referee watch: Mark Clattenburg 7/10 some early bookings would not have gone a miss.

Premier Talk: 
Is the Premier League title race all over?


  1. A good assessment. Before the game Sky tv discussed the millions we had spent that couldn't make the starting line up. We need better squad rotation if we are to really compete. Unfortunately Eddie will replace the whole team for the FA cup rather than the 5-6 changes which would give the incoming players a chance to gel with established players.

  2. I think 5 for smithy is generous he looked completely shattered before halftime. He should have been subbed then.