A play in four acts – Southampton 0 Newcastle 1
It ended Southampton 0 Newcastle 1 on Saturday and a lot of interesting (and not so interesting…) debate has followed.
Nothing better than winning away from home when you are at the game, I had a class day out.
However, I thought I’d take my time with the match report after being asked to do it, match up what I saw in the flesh with anything extra I could pick up from the TV coverage when I got back home…and sobered up.
The impact/use of VAR made a lot of headlines and thankfully the decisions went in our favour, this time.
However, as for the actual match as a whole, I think we can separate the play into four distinct acts (parts).
The Saints had started the game on top, the Newcastle defence all over the place, with Southampton winning a series of early corners and some desperate defending at times, though for once Dubravka not seriously called into action.
Then suddenly out of nowhere, Newcastle had in sixty seconds what would prove to be four of their seven shots on target in the whole game.
With eight minutes on the clock, only a brilliant triple save by Alex McCarthy prevented NUFC taking the lead, with Dwight Gayle having an effort saved and then Almiron twice denied, all in the matter of a few seconds. Within a minute though Gayle had another chance, a Ritchie cross but the striker seeing his effort again saved by McCarthy.
There then followed a pretty even spell as the two teams probed each other without really getting anywhere.
Then on 25 minutes, Djenepo was given a yellow card for a late challenge on Isaac Hayden, only for it to be upgraded to red after the ref checked the pitchside monitor after a word in his ear and a few minutes delay. The stage now surely set for NUFC to go on and win it.
With play back under way, Southampton were struggling to cope and adapt with ten men.
A few minute later and Jonjo Shelvey took advantage of the time and space on the ball, a good save by the home keeper but Dwight Gayle should have given him no chance with a free header, as Shelvey’s ball had bent perfectly behind the defence, only the keeper to beat from eight yards.
Another few minutes later and it was Gayle putting another effort wide of the post from only six or seven yards, this time ASM the provider.
As the chances came and went, you felt sure Newcastle had to score….and then VAR to the rescue again. The referee alerted, he gave the spot-kick, Boufal definitely handling the ball but was he fouled/pushed? NUFC getting the decision.
Matt Ritchie stepped up and put it in the bottom right corner, only for another superb Alex McCarthy save to deny him just before the end of the 45 minutes. Newcastle’s sixth of seven shots on target in the match.
Who knows what was said by the two managers at the break but when play got underway again, the Saints were organised and more composed with their 10 men, whilst Newcastle suddenly looked clueless…
It was now difficult to believe Newcastle had a man advantage.
There were some Newcastle shots blocked and off target but McCarthy now having a far easier time of it. Whilst at the other end Southampton were now looking a threat at times. Shane Long putting one effort wide and then Dubravka made a decent save from the striker, who should have done better as he had time and space somehow, despite being well outnumbered by defenders.
As the clock ticked down this was beginning to look like a massive wasted opportunity.
However, Allan Saint-Maximin to the rescue.
Only seconds after coming off the bench on 79 minutes, Sean Longstaff put a high ball behind the Saints defence and Valery totally failed to deal with it.
Saint-Maximin dispossessed him and was away, passing his shot through the home keeper and in off the post.
Remarkably this would be the only shot Newcastle would have on target in the entire second half despite playing against 10 men.
Newcastle’s first Premier League goal in almost eight hours of football and only an eighth goal in the last 13 PL games.
A few little spells in the first half suggested Newcastle had a bit more about them than previous Premier League games but without anybody capable of taking chances in the team/squad, all a bit wasted. You also had to take into account that Southampton have been terrible at home this season, picking up less points and conceding more goals (was 30, now 31) than any other PL team.
I think the key factor ended up being that with Southampton having only 10 men, it then meant Steve Bruce had allowed his players to press higher, meaning ASM was on hand to do what he did and win the game. If 11 v 11 then I doubt we would have been getting that winning goal.
With no striker capable of scoring goals in the Premier League, it is imperative in the remaining matches that both Almiron and ASM are pushed as high up the pitch as possible, so that NUFC have at least some kind of goal threat.
At the final whistle all that mattered was that we had won but the fact remains that Newcastle will have to raise their game if we are to have a decent end to the season, especially when it comes to the FA Cup.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Southampton 0 Newcastle 1 – Saturday 7 March 3pm
Red card Djenepo 28
Possession was Southampton 38% Newcastle 62%
Total shots were Southampton 6 Newcastle 14
Shots on target were Southampton 3 Newcastle 7
Corners were Southampton 5 Newcastle 8
Referee: Graham Scott
Dubravka, Manquillo (Lazaro 72), Fernandez, Lascelles, Rose, Hayden (Sean Longstaff 79), Shelvey, Ritchie (Joelinton 61), Almiron, Allan Saint-Maximin, Gayle
Darlow, Schar, Yedlin, Bentaleb
Crowd: 30,096 (NUFC 3,000)
(Steve Bruce now claims credit for Allan Saint-Maximin impact – Shameless? – Read HERE)
(3 Positives and 3 Negatives from Southampton 0 Newcastle 1 – Read HERE)
(Steve Bruce reacts “Why’s everybody getting their knickers in a twist? The decisions are right.” – Read HERE)
(Ralph Hasenhuttl says Newcastle United didn’t have any idea how to score against Southampton’s 10 men – Read HERE)
Southampton 0 Newcastle 1 – Watch official match highlights here including dramatic late ASM winner! – Watch HERE)
(Southampton 0 Newcastle 1 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Saturday’s incident packed win – Read HERE)
(Southampton 0 Newcastle 1 as Steve Bruce’s luck well and truly returns with VAR assisted victory – Read HERE)
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