Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Southampton V West Ham United

Jos Is The Boss!

Jos Hooiveld headed home a Danny fox corner which proved to be the winning goal in front of a jam-packed St Marys. 
Newly promoted Southampton hosted recently relegated West Ham in front of a record attendance of 32,150. The atmosphere was buzzing and both sets of fans were hoping to see their side win the game and go top of The Championship on a cold Tuesday evening.
As for team line-ups, West Ham were without James Tomkins but manager Sam Allardyce decided to risk former Portsmouth midfielder Matthew Taylor. Southampton, on the other hand, decided to keep Adam Lallana out of the match day squad after a late review on his fitness due to his foot injury picked up at Derby. Dean Hammond came back into the starting eleven and Frazier Richardson also started, despite coming off on Saturday due to a knock. 
The Hammers got the game under way, meaning Saints would be shooting towards the persistent noise in the Northam Stand. Innebatally the villain of the match was going to be Matthew Taylor, (Ex-Portsmouth) but the boos didn't phase the midfielder as he got on the action from the first whistle but failed to make Kelvin Davis sweat. Saints skipper, Dean Hammond, was at the heart of the action in the first fifteen minutes getting a number of shots off to test The Hammers' loanee Manuel Almunia.
The twenty minute mark capped the home crowds biggest cheer of the game yet when former Portsmouth captain Matt Taylor was forced to be substituted as a recurring calf injury ended his game early. If anything, Taylor's departure lifted the home side and they began to look the more comfortable in the game with efforts from Richard Chaplow, but fortunately for the visitors his attempts were off target.
As the half went on, both sides looked more dangerous but The Saints seemed to have the edge, Chaplow yet again with a chance to put the home side ahead, only for Almunia to pounce on the ball to keep the game level. David Connolly also getting in on the act with a shot which was blocked and not threatening the West Ham goal.
The home sides' persistence paid off though as Danny Fox took a well flighted corner which was met by the head of centre half, Jos Hooiveld, with a fantastic header giving Almunia no other option than to watch the ball hit the back of the net.
The goal, a minute before half time, gave The Saints the one goal advantage at the interval which meant if the score stayed the same, Southampton would retain their one-hundred percent home record at St Marys.
The league leaders kicked off the second half knowing if they kept a clean sheet, they'd have stacked up seventeen consecutive home wins.
West Ham's Winston Reid had the first attempt of the second half, but his effort didn't trouble Saints' number one and Southampton started to dominate the game.
The Hammers' skipper, Kevin Nolan, was booked for the reaction of a free kick given against him by the referee, the midfielder felt his opposite number, Morgan Schniederlin, went down too easily. Sam Baldock also showed frustration to the referee and joined his captain in the book. Lambert took the resulting free kick only for it to be blocked, which lead to a succession of corners for The Saints. However the home side couldn't steer any of the corners into the net like they did first half, in fact, West Ham looked more likely to score as Sam Baldock found himself in a one-on-one situation, but the twenty-two year old could only curl the ball past the outside of the post.
Goalscorer, Jos Hooiveld was booked with under half an hour to play for dissent as he disagreed with the referee's decision in an unsporting way.
As the game started to become open, the ever so lively David Connolly's eyes lit up as Pap Bouba Diop slipped on the carpet-like turf, but the Irishman didn't manage to bend his shot enough to test Almunia.
It would be fair to say with fifteen minutes left of the game, Saints looked on top with all midfielders playing at the top of their form, as they have all season. Chaplow, again looked more likely to score as he had a driven shot which looked destine for the bottom corner but curled wide.
Chaplow saw yellow (surprise) with a tackle from behind on Henri Lansbury, the Southampton midfielder was then substituted immediately for Dan Harding, who came on to play on the left side, similar to Saturday at Derby.
Gully Do Prado was pushed slightly forward to support target man Rickie Lambert upfront as Connolly was replaced by the talented ex-Chelsea midfielder, Jack Cork.
Not for the first time this season, Nigel Adkins' substitution appeared to be an advantage for Southampton, as Gully saw sight on goal with a shot threatening to kill the game off.
Adkins used his final substitution of the game 5 minutes from time, bringing on the lively sub De Ridder on for Gully. It looked to be another great minded change by the manager, who has taken The Saints from league 1 to top of The Championship, when De Ridder was played in by Dan Harding and casually slotted the ball through the legs of Almunia. However, the referee had already blown his whistle for a foul in Southamptons' favour, much to De Ridder's disappointment.
The tension in St Marys could be cut with a knife as the fourth official indicated 5 additional minutes at the end of the ninety, in fact, it seemed to make the league leaders more nervy at the back. Kelvin Davis was required to tip Mark Noble's free kick over for a corner, which lead to his corner to be flicked off the head of a defender as the ball came back off the far post, relief for the 32,000 home fans inside!
Darren Deadman blew the whistle for full time and a big cheer inside St Marys was not only for the strong performance from The Saints, but for the 5 point gap their team now have at the top of the table. Opposing manager, Sam Allardyce, would have hoped for a better birthday present from his side going into Wednesday, but Adkins' men showed no let up.

Most importantly, Portsmouth lost 1-0 away at Ipswich. Moreover, Steve Coterrill, who left the club this week, managed Nottingham Forest to beat Middlesborough to allow Saints to go 5 points clear.

Team Rating:

Kelvin Davis 8 - Made some crucial saves in the game to keep Saints in it, including a one-on-one.
Frazier Richardson 8 - Still continuing his great form and gets forward at every opportunity.
Jose Fonte 7 - Solid as ever, dived in at one moment and slipped which could have cost the game.
Jos Hooiveld 9 - The loanee capped a great performance with a great headed goal.
Danny Fox 7 - Got some decent crosses in, not forgetting the corner which assisted to the goal.
Morgan Schniederlin 7 - Played well in the middle and worked hard when stamina was vital.
Dean Hammond 8 - The skipper played well and could have bagged himself a goal tonight.
Gully Do Prado 7 - Got forward as he likes to do, nearly scored a number of times too.
Richard Chaplow 8 -Showed good energy and had an eye for goal before being substituted.
David Connolly 6 - Looked lively like usual but didn't seem to get involved as much as usual.
Rickie Lambert 7 - Proved to be a target man and won the headers to get the ball down and play.

Subs used:
Dan Harding - didn't see much of the ball, but when he did, used it well and got down the line.
Jack Cork - Came on and could have used the ball better and put the ball in areas to run down the clock.
Steve De Ridder - Came on and scored but the referee wasn't on the same wave-length as the rest of us.

Referee Rating:
D. Deadman - Slightly disappointed with the referee, didn't let the game flow enough in the second half as he did so well in the first. Gave out yellow cards far too easily and could have controlled it better towards the end. 

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