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Southampton 1 Watford 1 (10/11/2018) 11/11/2018

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

1- “Tell you what Matt, the next time we come here, let’s not park in Portsmouth…?”

Paul’s an affable sort of bloke, not one for unnecessary or exaggerated protest and in fairness he has a point. Our reserved parking space is actually only half a mile or so from the ground as the crow flies but with the River Itchen in the way it’s a good two miles as the Watford fan trudges. This seemed like a reasonable idea without the filter of the pissing rain, and on the way into Southampton the prospect of snarled traffic put us off from looking for something a bit closer. As it is we arrive damp and tired, and that classic football fan’s war wound, the burn on the roof of the mouth thanks to a hastily inhaled balti pie, doesn’t brighten the outlook. Loz materialises, over from gadding it in Spain, this helps, but as the teams come out it’s absolutely hammering it down.

2- Question One of course is quite how we’ll cope with the conditions. Étienne Capoue is the one you’d traditionally worry about of course, the one labelled with the same “he’s fine when the sun’s shining” reputation that Micah Hyde was once rather harshly awarded but he’s missing having picked up a fifth booking of the season in Newcastle. In comes Nathaniel Chalobah for a very welcome first League start for twelve months but eager anticipation of the resumption of his partnership with Doucouré needs to be tempered for a while. Chalobah was magnificent in the slightly less pressured environment of the League Cup win at Reading, but here does look every inch a player who’s barely played in twelve months… ragged, off the pace, trying rather too hard to rectify mistakes exacerbated by the conditions in being rather reckless in the tackle. He’ll get there, props again to Javi Gracia for giving him the full ninety minutes which will help but we looked noticeably flimsier in midfield minus Capoue, one-time Watford target Mario Lemina the dominant figure in a congested central area of the park.

That said the worst example of failing to accommodate the conditions was perpetrated by Roberto Pereyra, whose flame had dimmed overall. Saints enjoyed their first spell of pressure, winning a corner when Stuart Armstrong overlapped well then sending a header straight at Foster from the set piece. From the second corner the ball found its way to Pereyra who dawdled and tried to pick out a pass with the ball stuck under his feet. He was robbed and Saints capitalised. Particularly aggravating in the context of a game which was always going to ask a lot of a team going behind… much easier to be destructive and protect a lead than to chase a game in these conditions.

3- Southampton revelled in their advantage, catching sight of a first home win since April. Both sides were struggling to retain possession, but the Saints were having the best of it and came close twice more in the first half, Yoshida heading narrowly wide before Armstrong’s flicked shot forced an excellent reaction save from Foster. At the other end the Saints looked eminently get-attable, but Gerard Deulofeu’s bark was proving worse than his bite once more. His quick feet and scuttling menace is too often let down by bad decision making; the most eye-catching of these instances provoked accusations of selfishness from those around us but the Spaniard has been equally culpable of forgoing opportunities in favour of less well-placed colleagues.

Isaac Success however was having some, um, joy in providing a focal point for the attack, his ability to stick a brick wall in front of his marker whilst gently chesting down an aerial ball not getting old just yet. He was helped further when Troy joined the fray; at the time this was heralded as a bold early substitution, it transpires that the disappointing Hughes had been struggling with a knock. Either way, the momentum of the game changed and we were the side most likely to from then on in. As ever it’s the how as much as the what with Troy, and as so often he dragged his teammates back into the ascendancy.

4- In the grand scheme of things there are more objectionable teams in the Premier League than Southampton, bearing in mind of course that the basic rule of supporting a football team is that there’s your lot and there’s everyone else; we’re talking degrees of objectionable for the most part. Nonetheless, there are more pompous, unpleasant, snide teams around than Southampton. All that really lets them down at the moment is their odious manager, whose notoriously blinkered view of the world is widely parodied. Predictably enough, he was at the vanguard of a one-eyed version of the second half narrative that focused on the second of two eye-catching decisions from Premier League newbie Simon Hooper.

This related to Charlie Austin’s disallowed strike, a fine move down the right out of nowhere giving Austin the opportunity to finish well. We sunk into our seats, it was some time before the assistant raised his flag disallowing the goal to understandable if baffled joy in the away end. Any explanations came via friends who may or may not have been watching streams; on review, there’s no denying that the goal gets awarded nine times out of ten.

It’s not completely cut and dried though. Not ludicrous. MotD’s analysis suggested that the officials thought that the offside Yoshida had touched the ball but there’s a case for saying that the defender was active in that had he leaned towards the ball rather than away from it he would have deflected the shot into the opposite corner. That he chose not to is neither here nor there. Either way, we got away with one since the decision goes with the goalscorer most of the time. Incontrovertibly, however, we were in deficit on the decision front after Ryan Bertrand, already on a yellow, had earlier scythed Nathaniel Chalobah in the area to no penalty. What woulda shoulda coulda happened if if if is academic of course; the pen wasn’t given, Bertrand wasn’t dismissed. Austin’s goal wasn’t given either, you play the circumstances and get on with it. Southampton’s unbalanced, fanciful evaluation reflects their desperation; this is a side in serious trouble. On the evidence of our recent games against struggling sides I’d put them behind Newcastle, Palace (sigh) and even Huddersfield, who whilst blunt had a pattern of play and a togetherness. Saints were handed a lead at home against a mid-table side playing poorly and contrived to screw it up.

5- Since the second half saw us a lot more bullish, Saints struggling with the physicality of Deeney and Success. They held a high line which was effective for a while, but Andre Gray’s snappy cameo did for that. The penalty was only one of a growing number of half-chances bludgeoned out despite the weather, despite not generally playing well. Isaac Success popped up on either flank in defiance of what must have been heavy legs. Troy snapped in a near post shot to an instant Deulofeu ball for which the Spaniard was congratulated. “It was coming” might have been overstating it, but the pitch was being gently tilted our way. In the end we won through overloading and a ball finally breaking favourably, a deflection off Deulofeu giving Holebas a window to slug a shot home via a slight deflection.  The celebration, given rain, given the passage of events,  given the lateness of the hour was perhaps out of proportion with the significance of the goal.  One of Those.

We battered the hosts for the last ten minutes; only one side was going to win it, McCarthy flapping a cross against his own crossbar and Gray narrowly failing to make contact with a late cross. It would have flattered us though. This was a worthy point earned through bloody-mindedness rather than scintillating football. They’re handy too mind, particularly in circumstances such as these when the sexy stuff can’t or won’t come. It comes to something when we’re coming away from home in the Premier League and disappointed with a point, but with Liverpool, Leicester and Man City within ten days after the international break it was a valuable (if damp) one.


Foster 3, Femenía 3, Holebas 3, *Mariappa 3*, Cathcart 3, Hughes 2, Doucouré 3, Chalobah 2, Pereyra 2, Deulofeu 2, Success 3
Subs: Deeney (for Hughes, 40) 3, Gray (for Pereyra, 68) 3, Masina, Kabasele, Wilmot, Okaka, Gomes


1. Harefield Hornet - 11/11/2018

We parked on the other side of the city centre “to get a head start afterwards” and smugly used a cab to get to our usual watering hole, only to get hit by what seemed like a tsunami blowing off the marina on arrival! Nobody panicked after the first half and the interval consensus was generally optimistic. What followed was completely baffling but like you I think the pundits took a very simplistic view of the disallowed goal? i.e. when is somebody actually interfering etc? Great stuff from Hughes and Austin afterwards though – made it all the more enjoyable!

2. Roger Smith - 11/11/2018

“…there’s a case for saying that the defender was active in that, had he leaned towards the ball rather than away from it, he would have deflected the shot into the opposite corner.”

…or into Foster’s arms, and that possibility may have caused him to hesitate. So you’re right, whether or not he touched the ball, he was interfering with play. Let’s see what Dermot Gallagher makes of it tomorrow.

But having grudgingly confirmed that Watford should have had a penalty, the real MoTD travesty was failing to point out that that would have changed the game from that point on, even if we had missed. The second controversy simply wouldn’t have arisen.

3. Simoninoz - 12/11/2018

The rookie ref got both big decisions wrong I’m afraid; one for each side. However, isn’t it great that our coach is adult enough to shrug his shoulders and say, “That’s life,” unlike the toddler tantrums of his south coast counterpart.

4. Ben - 12/11/2018


Matt Rowson - 12/11/2018

Yes, magnificent. Should have referenced it. For the uninitiated look for CHARLIE AUSTIN PARKLIFE on twitter

5. Robert Hill - 12/11/2018

There is a terrific multi story car park within a 10 minute walk to the ground next to the Ocean Village, which has food outlets (Weatherspoon) and a friendly atmosphere with friendly rival fans. Never seen a problem in there whatsoever after so many visits. I’m sure you must know it Matt? Why anyone would want to walk across the bridge in that weather mystifies me? But i know you are a seasoned traveller so hey? Getting away was ok too. Straight out of the multi storey into 2 lanes of traffic which take you parallel with the river and straight onto the M271 – M27 and M3.

Apologies if you already know that route, but all I can say is that while it is initially slow, one keeps moving and not so long getting on the M271 before the M3.

As for the game I thought it was a deserved result for both teams. I thought Deeney showed great leadership and quality up top and a shame we could not just nick the three points. Thoughts, well Southampton lacked a little in confidence in the final 3rd but were very, very plucky and threatening at times. we just can’t seemed to put games to bed at the moment though.

Matt Rowson - 12/11/2018


(Thx, will try to bear in mind for next time)

6. reg - 13/11/2018

When Charlie Austin put the ball in the net to apparently put Saints 2-0 up and rushed over to celebrate with his under pressure manager and the rest of the squad I thought “that’s it, we’ve lost the game” which wouldn’t have been good given our next 3 fixtures. Then a slow realisation crept over the crowd and Mark Hughes that the referee hadn’t run back to the centre circle to restart the game and it eventually dawned that the goal had been disallowed. Of course I can understand Austin’s frustration and annoyance but in the final analysis Yoshida didn’t need to be in that position. He is a centre back and was further up field than his midfield and strikers. Sometimes footballers need to look at themselves rather than blame others for their misfortune. At the end of the season Yoshida’s carelessness could cost Southampton a place in the Premier League.

Although of course we would have had a penalty before then if the rules had been correctly applied.

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