Crystal Palace FA Cup 3rd round Home
“It was 40 years ago today, Hughie Fisher taught the band to play…” Well 40 years ago on FA Cup 3rd round Saturday anyway, when Fisher’s late strike earned Saints a replay with Aston Villa, and come 1st of May, history was made. This year’s opponents were Crystal Palace, just as they had been in our last tie in the competition, and with a similar outcome. There is now some discontent around the place owing to a run of poor results, but I thought Saints gave a good account of themselves in a game that could have gone either way. Just as at Selhurst Park, Southampton employed their three at the back tactic with Martina and Target as the wide men in front of them, and they caused early problems for the visitors. A goal wouldn’t come though, and these days the defence are quite capable of a match-changing error at any time, quite apart from having the hapless Yoshida in their line-up. That mistake duly came on the half hour when Davis misplaced a return pass to Yoshida and the defender failed to rescue the situation, instead letting Puncheon run clear, with Ward (‘you skate b*st*rd’) finally putting the ball in the net. So much for three at the back, and so much for Yoshida: Saints reverted to 4-4-2 after the break with Tadić and López added to the line-up. It soon produced an equaliser when Martina was denied by Hennessey and Romeu put in the loose ball. Palace fans on the train home made Hennessey their man of the Match, which is to Southampton’s credit, but it was also a reminder that we’ve never been able to say that about our regular custodian. Indeed Stekelenburg was in action at the other end, pushing away Puncheon’s shot, but only to Zaha who converted the game’s second rebound goal: Stekelenburg sceptics were left thinking he could have done better. Saints responded well but were foiled by Hennessey and his colleagues so time for a Hugh Fisher of the 21st century, and it was very nearly Shane Long deep into what seemed an inadequate quota of added time, but his header from a corner came back off the angle of post and bar. Time to concentrate on the league, and we do need urgent points to let everyone feel better about the club.
LSSC Man of the Match: Oriol Romeu, an energetic replacement for the suspended Wanyama.