Saints Get Ridder 5 Point Lead At The Top
Saints fought back from going a goal down at the Madejski as super sub, Steve De Ridder, clinched a point for the league leaders.
It was a bitter yet sunny evening in Reading as both teams emerged from the tunnel, a short journey for the Saints fans, who sold out their allocation of over four thousand tickets.
Nigel Adkins decided to make the one change, swapping Morgan Schneiderlin for Jack Cork in the starting 11 which beat second placed West Ham on Tuesday night.
Pre-match entertainment wasn't worth a mention in this match report, although three handsome lads were picked up by the Sky Sports cameras which must have pleased the viewers at home.
Both sides started the game fairly cagey, with neither team creating any clear-cut opportunities. Brian McDermott's side appeared to play The Saints at their own game, keeping the ball on the ground and playing an attractive style of football.
The first real action came on the twelfth minute as Saints centre back, Jose Fonte, handled the ball in the air as Reading forward, Le Fondre, was lurking behind the defender, resulting in an early booking for Fonte. Luckily for Southampton, the free kick taken by ex-Saint, Joseph Mills, was struck over the bar into the travelling supporters.
Saints couldn't get control of the game in the early stages, in fact, Reading threatened to take the lead as Jobi McAnuff got passed Frazier Richardson to drill in a low cross which tested Danny Fox's alertness, who was on standby to cut out the danger.
The hosts continued in their efforts to go ahead when Simon Church took on a distant low shot which looked to be heading wide, despite the reflex save to turn it round the post by the Saints shot-stopper.
Saints' number 1, Kelvin Davis, was the busiest of the two keepers in the first half, Mikele Leigertwood this time with a shot from 30 yards which forced a corner out of Davis.
Southampton soaked up the pressure and eventually got the ball into the Reading penalty area as Jack Cork forced a save out of the home sides' 'keeper, Adam Federici, the resulting corner fell to Rickie Lambert, who attempted an acrobatic attempt which flew high into the stands.
Saints' substitute 'keeper, Bartosz Białkowski, must have thought his time had come when Davis was quickly charged down by Le Fondre, who couldn't stop himself making contact with the knee of the 35-year-old. Thankfully for the away side, Davis managed to shake off the knock and steady himself for the next Reading attack.
Referee, Jon Moss, signalled the end of the first half which may have been even on possession stats, but dominated by the home side in terms of chances.
Nigel Adkins decided to introduce Aaron Martin to the game in replacement for Fonte, who apparently felt a tight hamstring progressing and was also on a booking.
Reading picked up where they left off as the second half began, forcing 3 corners, including one which was met by the header of former Saint, Alex Pearce, who narrowly headed wide.
Aaron Martin (right) would have dreamt of a goal right in front of the travelling fans, and he must have thought he had it, as he got his head to a Danny Fox free kick for Saints' first attempt on target 8 minutes into Martin's arrival.
As many Saints' fans will agree, Southampton manager, Nigel Adkins, has made many impact substitutions in his reign and it was no surprise to see Steve De Ridder introduced on the hour mark after scoring a controversial disallowed goal on Tuesday at St Marys.
De Ridder's impact was apparent immediately as he forced a low save from Federici in front of the away support after Chaplow's impressive run.
Ex-Saint, Mills, was struggling to cope with De Ridder's pace as the Belgian rounded the Reading left-back, the two players then clashed and De Ridder was booked for the foul which looked unintentional.
Great build up play by the visitors involving Chaplow and Lambert progressed into the Reading 18 yard area as the ball fell to Danny Fox, who was about to pull the trigger 8 yards from goal until Kaspars Gorkss came sliding in with a crucial interception.
Reading were soon back on the attack as Liegertwood was brought down by Saints skipper Dean Hammond, who was shown a yellow card for the foul on the edge of the area. McAnuff stepped up for the free kick and curled a fantastic effort which hit the post and came back into play, the fastest player to react was Liegertwood who shot first time with a tidy finish in the bottom corner.
The goal was nothing more than the home side deserved, although you wouldn't put it past the Saints coming back into the game, the league leaders have scored in every game they have played in so far this season in the league.
However, as things looked bad for the visitors, Dean Hammond lunged in on Mcanuff to give Mr Moss no other option than to produce a second yellow card for the skipper and give him his marching orders.
The travelling fans failed to give up hopes though and continued to get behind their team despite the situation which looked to be a tough uphill battle from then on.
|De Ridder rescues a point for The Saints|
Much to the surprise of many, De Ridder picked up the ball from Guly, who then dropped the shoulder and weaved his way into the area. What looked to be a tight angle on goal, De Ridder then fooled the keeper and let the ball run past his stride to belt the ball into the net off the bar in front of the 4000 travelling supporters who went bananas!
Saints then had their tails up and began to push for a winner, with the away end the noisier of the two sets of fans, Southampton looked more likely to win the game with ten minutes remaining.
Having already made a successful substitution, Adkins brought on Schneiderlin for Guly, who had a quiet game and didn't have the best of performances in a Saints shirt.
The game opened up and it was end to end stuff with De Ridder keen to get the winner, but if anything, too keen, as he was flagged offside.
Former Saint, Mills, had the last chance of the game as he took on a shot from distance which ended up in the stands, high and wide.
Jon Moss brought the game to a halt as both sides seemed content with a point a piece. Nigel Adkins was no doubt the happier manager with an away draw which could easily have been a loss following the early departure of his captain.
Saints still the league leaders but the gap is now down to 3 points, which is still something to be proud of by the newly promoted side. However, 3 points away at Reading would have put them in a fantastic position, which would have put them 5 points clear.
Kelvin Davis 9 - Made a couple of fantastic saves and got to crosses/corners well.
Frazier Richardson 7 - Continued his great form, could have been more solid defensively.
Jose Fonte 7 - Looked solid and comfortable in possession as ever.
Jos Hooiveld 8 - Played well defensively but needs to play less dangerous passes out of defense.
Danny Fox 8 - Good game, got forward and could have had a goal for himself.
Dean Hammond 6 - Passed the ball wide nicely before being sent off, let himself and the side down with the two silly challenges though.
Richard Chaplow 7 - Good game, linked up well with Lambert, a few miss-placed passes though.
Guly Do Prado 6 - A disappointing performance by the Brazilian, probably the worst I've seen him so far, looked lazy and not interested.
Jack Cork 7 - Played some great passes and showed good agility but some sloppy touches and passes could have cost the side.
David Connolly 6 - Very quiet game, looked disappointed to have come off although it wasn't much of a surprise.
Rickie Lambert 8 - Won a number of headers in the air, involved as always in the attack and made chances.
Aaron Martin 8 - Played well defensively, should have scored but did well to come on at half time.
Morgan Schneiderlin 7 - Didn't see a great deal of the ball but played some nice passes which he is capable of.
Steve De Ridder 9 - Done a fantastic job to make impact and score a great goal to rescue a point.
Referee - Jon Moss 7 - An average game by the referee, no major decisions to make and he got his main decisions correct. A couple of poor decisions when giving fouls instead of playing advantage but overall an O.K performance.