Supersub Steve saves Saints
Reading 1, Saints 1
Having established a healthy five point gap, Saints were always going to remain top of the league before the start of the Saturday evening fixture at Reading – something that 4,000 followers were more than keen to remind people about.
However, after a cagey opening from both sides, Reading’s lively attacks soon began to cause problems. Fonte was cautioned for deliberate handball, and that seemed to affect his game, along with later news of a hamstring problem.
Despite the best efforts of Richardson, Hooiveld and Fox, Davis was proving to be Southampton’s best player as colleagues further up the pitch failed to make much impression or even hold on to the ball for long enough to make life more comfortable – Davis’s flying save from Leigertwood was just the most spectacular of his first half efforts whilst Federici in the home goal had a much easier ride.
Fonte failed to appear after the interval, with Martin taking over, and the new centre back was to provide Saints’ first worthwhile effort on goal as Federici made a good save. Martin wasn’t to blame for the incident at the heart of the Saints defence that had a profound effect on the game: Hammond was, though, and he was booked for a foul on Leigertwood that also conceded a free kick on the edge of the box. Saints never looked to have the danger covered adequately and McAnuff struck the post directly before Leigertwood converted the rebound with a cross shot.
Things soon got worse as Hammond dived into a centre-field tackle that was late enough to bring a second caution. Saints had brought on De Ridder, though, and with Lallana injured, we do need someone to provide the unusual. Do Prado is also supposed to do that and it was his sublime touch that gave De Ridder space – but then the winger brilliantly beat his man in the six yard box before a shooting in off the underside of the bar. It was still a difficult game to save, let alone win with 10 men, but a better pass from De Ridder to Chaplow might have done the trick. As it was, we were grateful for a hard earned point.
LSSC Man of the Match: Kelvin Davis – for the first time in 12 months, which is a measure of how well Saints have been playing. An honourable mention for Chaplow whose industry contributed much to saving the game.