Saturday, October 30, 2010
League 1 Match 14 - Notts County 1 Southampton 3
In the build-up to the Notts County game, there was the development that you never like to see – the opposition manager getting sacked. It invariably leads to an improved performance and SFC being on the wrong end of a beating. Of course, whenever we change manager (frequently), all we get out of it is usually a narrower defeat than last time out. The news that Craig Short had been sacked was of course, tempered by the news that Paul Ince was taking over. Incey (as his one friend calls him) had a 100% record against Saints last season – played 4, won 0, drawn 0… guess the rest. He’s got a touchline ban though, hanging over from his Fake Dons days so no one has to put up with watching his gurning, hard man, macho posturing, Guv’nor bollocks on the sidelines.
This week at SFC has again seen no arrests but it has seen a childish argument with Shrewsbury Town. In a nutshell, we drew them at home in the FA Cup and wanted to set ticket prices at £15 and they wanted them to be £25. When the FA sided with us, we released a statement, which if I’d written it, would have contained the phrases ‘taking the piss’, ‘greedy bastards’ and ‘team no one wants to watch’. As it was, the sarcastic SFC statement annoyed them enough for Shrewsbury to hit back, saying we were up ourselves as we are only 15 places above them in the League – interestingly though, they didn’t try and deny that they wanted to charge everyone £25. I’m with Don Cortese on this one as no fucker would pay £25 to watch Shrewsbury. Yeah, we didn’t need the belittling statement but it was quite funny. Don’t fuck with the Don. Surely the rule that states that both sets of supporters should be charged the same is wrong - much better to let each team charge what they like for their allocation so Shrewsbury can in future, rip off their own fans as much as they like.
Back to today and Nige had selection issues with Deano available again so one of Morgan or Chappers had to go and Chappers it was. With Chappers on the bench, sadly there was no room for the Genius of Wotton so if we needed someone taking out with a shockingly late tackle, someone else was going to have to do it. Unsurprisingly, the Gulyman was left out with Lee Barnard recalled and Punch managed to keep England U18 call up, Alex Chamberlain, on the bench. The biggest news was that Frazer Richardson was to make his first start at right back as Butters had a knock. Frazer’s wages for the past 4 months had gone on repairing his dislocated shoulder and getting him fit again in our Under 21 team, which has an average age of about 28.
Saints were brilliant for the first 30 seconds as Barnard lashed a shot over the bar and then it went downhill as County, clearly fired up for their new manager, played with a lot more urgency than we were able to muster ourselves. We let in a goal on 8 minutes which was ridiculous for a couple of reasons. One – we let Edwards have a free header in the box from a corner and two, the referee didn’t spot that a County player was holding onto Superkelv’s arm, preventing him from trying to save the header. League 1 refs are shite – we all know that so I’d like to dwell on the fact that the free header was the problem – don’t allow that and the foul on the keeper is irrelevant.
County had started to kick us off the park and the referee was consistently doing nothing about it. He then decided that it was time to take action because of the persistent fouling and booked Sir Rickie for complaining about it. Saints had the odd break into the County half and from one of these, won a free kick. From fully 30 yards, Sir Rickie hit a good one which Burch, the County keeper tipped onto the post and away. I predict that next week he will actually score from a free kick…. It’s getting closer.
From the half hour onwards, Saints were creating chances and on another day (with another ref), Hammond’s blast onto a defenders arm would have earned a penalty. A good ball from Harding to Lallana enabled Adam to cut in and curl wide of the far post when he really should have done better. Radio Merrington said it was ‘class’ which is something I have to take issue with. Something that is class, by definition, ends up in the fucking net and not slamming into the advertising boards behind the goal.
Half time and though we’d got better, I wasn’t too hopeful of turning this around. The silver lining was that County had played well with Incey in the stand and I was sure that his half time presence would mean that they were worse in the 2nd half which started with ten minutes of nothing before a break down the right and Lallana firing in a cross to Hammond who seemed to misjudge it and completely missed it. Radio Merrington described this as an appalling miss so I’ll have to take his word for it as I haven’t seen it yet. He had been wrong before though…
Following the miss, we could easily have been 2-0 down but Superkelv came to our rescue twice. It is remarkable how much easier goalkeeping is when you don’t have one of the opposition holding down your arms. More bitching about the validity of their goal (which I said I wouldn’t do) aside, we had reached, THE TURNING POINT.
Lallana slipped a nice pass through to Barnard who was taken out by County skipper Thompson… penalty. Last man and off you go – go sit with Incey in the stand. A County player thinks it’s worthwhile to try and put Sir Rickie off while he’s waiting for the ref to blow but it really isn’t… bang, 1-1. The substitutions that had been ready to be made before we got the penalty are made with Chappers and Chamberlain coming on for the ineffective Schneiderlin and Puncheon. From the kick off, the ball breaks to Lee Barnard who, judging by the booing coming out of the radio, is as popular as a cage fighter at a nightclub. I guess they think he dived which he very very clearly, did not.
Much though Barnard was hated by the County fans at this point, his popularity plumbed new depths three minutes later when instead of lashing at the goal, Sir Rickie surprised everyone by laying it across the goal for Barnard to score. 1-0 and you fucked it up. It’s not long before Barney is subbed to allow him to take a standing ovation from the County fans and on comes Bignall who is the subject of the next bit of Radio Gold when the ball is played to him and the commentator says ‘great control by Bignall, throw in to Notts County’. To my mind, any piece of control which results in a throw in to the opposition is not great.
County never really look like scoring for the remaining 15 minutes and Saints see it out quite comfortably and even have time to put the icing on the top of this particular away day cake as Adam Lallana curls one in for 3-1, following a spell of keep ball and ole, ole ole. A very nice ending to a day that started so badly. 3-1 probably flattered us a bit and I'm sure that the Notts County fans will be bitching about the turning point of the game but I have more than a sneaking suspicion that the TV replays will show, that the Notts goal shouldn't have stood and it was a penalty for the foul on Barnard and that their guy had to be sent off. Evidence of both incidents can be found here.....http://www.saintsfc.co.uk/page/Gallery/0,,10280~2202478,00.html
Bring on the Daggers on Tuesday night. Nige said he wanted two wins and we’ve done the more difficult one of the two. Now is not the time to repeat the win against Sheff Weds followed by crap draw against Yeovil. A quick peek at the League 1 table sees us now just two points off of Huddersfield in 2nd place and a quick peek in Nigel Adkins book of managerial buzzwords revels that ‘Momentum’ is the word of the moment.