Antonio strike keeps slim hopes alive
Saints 1, Charlton 0
As expected, the injury that forced Jaidi to retire early from the Orient game also kept him out of the fixture with Charlton, so Seaborne kept his place. However, no-one predicted the change up front that saw Saints deploy a 4-4-1-1 formation, with Puncheon playing just behind Lambert and Antonio allowed that wide right midfield slot – recollections of last year’s Dutch style maybe?
We rather missed a more conventional partner for Lambert to play off, but the tactic was supposed to confuse and concern the opposition as well. As the home defence held firm, it only had to do that once for the experiment to claim at least some element of success; it certainly came off in the 35th minute when Puncheon and Antonio linked up in a swift move through the inside right channel, and Antonio fired in his first league goal for Saints with some style – he eventually made way for Barnard when the attacking system was abandoned on 67 minutes.
Charlton were high fliers early in the season but less consistent form since has made the play-offs a more realistic aim, and Saints often made them look more like a mid table side. Only in the closing moments of each half did they mount much concerted pressure, but it took a good save from Davis to keep out Bailey in first half added time.
The visitors’ series of corners from this spell was eventually cleared for Saints to heavily outnumber their opponents on the break, but Antonio’s poor control meant the moment was lost. Something similar might have occurred right at the end of the match when goalkeeper Randolph was sent up for some set pieces, but Saints were defending in too much depth to take advantage. Mr. Pardew called the game ‘scrappy,’ which is harsh on both sets of players. I thought it was a good, competitive contest with Bailey always dangerous for the visitors and Lambert only denied by a double goal-line clearance.
LSSC Man of the Match: Jose Fonte, for his part in ensuring Antonio’s goal was worth three points.
Alan Pardew: “The game never really got flowing. We just wanted to play and Charlton wanted to play. We got a good goal. A moment of magic from us that was the difference between the two sides.
“We know we can beat the top teams but are the teams on top of us going to falter enough to give us a chance?”
37 Antonio (Barnard 67)
07 Lambert (Wotton 88)