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Southampton v Spurs, 28.10.12

(3 P.M.)

Southampton scorer:-
Rodriguez, 66

Spurs scorers:-
Bale, 15
Dempsey, 39

Attendance:- 31,944

Referee:-Mr. Lee Mason
Assistants:- Mr D. England & Mr. D.C. Richards
Fourth official:- Mr. R. East

Southampton (4-4-2):- Boruc; Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Fox (sub Reeves, 79); Puncheon (sub Mayuka, 58), Schneiderlin, S. Davis (sub Guly, 78), Lallana (Capt.); Lambert, Rodriguez

Subs not used:- K. Davis; Hooiveld, Ward-Prowse, Chaplow

No bookings

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Friedel; Walker, Gallas (Capt.), Caulker, Vertonghen; Huddlestone (sub Livermore, 63), Sandro; Lennon, Dempsey (sub Dawson, 90), Bale; Defoe (sub Sigurdsson, 78)

Subs not used:- Lloris; Naughton; Falque, Townsend

Booked:- Sandro, Vertonghen, Livermore

Saints alive! Spurs win at St. Mary’s!

Spurs won their first game at the St. Mary’s Stadium at the sixth attempt, and fate dictated that the “Saints” old boy, Gareth Bale would score Spurs’ first goal. Bale did the right thing and celebrated in subdued fashion, and demonstrated with that one touch what Spurs had been missing while he was on his very brief paternity leave. There was no sign of Mousa Dembele though, but Spurs still dominated the home side completely in the first half, when they should have asserted themselves even more and taken a more telling lead.

The home side, who had given their full house nothing to sing about in that first half took the game to Spurs after the break, managed one goal back, and kept Spurs on the back foot for too much time for the comfort of the visiting fans. Southampton’s extra effort and pressure was not enough though, as Spurs overtook Everton to take fourth place in the Premier League table.

There was just a little tinkering with the team that got back from Slovenia in the early hours of Friday morning. Brad Friedel re-claimed his place in goal, and William Gallas returned to the back four, with Kyle Naughton sitting on the bench whilst Vertonghen covered at left back. There seemed to be a subtle difference in the way Huddlestone and Sandro shaped up in front of the back four, with Huddlestone playing in front of Sandro a lot of the time. Andre Villas-Boas had perhaps correctly deduced that Huddlestone might find more space to create against this moderate opposition. Indeed, Huddlestone played a significant part in most of Spurs’ first half success, laying on the cross for Bale’s goal, and only making errors towards the end of the half. Huddlestone’s replacement with the more defensive Jake Livermore after only 63 minutes was almost a sign of surrender, as far as any intention by Spurs to take the initiative in what was left of the game.

Matters were also not helped when Jermain Defoe was replaced by Sigurdsson, which left Dempsey with the task of being the lone front runner. With Adebayor still absent, Spurs have so little in reserve when it comes to strikers.

There was little significant incident in the opening 10 minutes, and I can only assume that the number 11 has a meaning for Saints’ fans, who broke into collective applause after 11 minutes had passed. I look forward to being enlightened about this moment. I am only too happy, now I have been advised of the reason, to promote Billy Sharp's Just Giving page here - Spurs fans also joined in this applause for the cause.

Aaron Lennon had another good game today, and on a number of occasions threaded a ball from inside the line, inside the defender for the advancing Walker. In fact, Lennon played inside the line for quite a bit of the game. This first pass led to a good cross from Walker, and a shot by Jermain Defoe, which passed just wide of the goalkeeper’s left post. Spurs lead came following a good short cross from the right by Tom Huddlestone, which was firmly met by Bale’s header at the back post, beating Boruc inside his left post.

Sandro played one of those Lennon-type passes for Walker, who again found Defoe. However, Jermain fired well over the bar. Spurs’ second goal came after some good defending, before a break from his own half by Lennon. Lennon carried the ball forward on a run, then laid on a brilliant pass inside the defence again for Jermain whose shot was blocked, then finished off at close range by Clint Dempsey.

There hadn’t been a lot of incident, but Spurs had been in total control. Three minutes into the second half, Walker failed to clear down his line, and Saints took on the ball, with Puncheon having an effort go wide. Fox tried a shot from distance four minutes later, but that was well over the target. Spurs broke out of their half a minute later, after initially Kyle Walker lost the ball, but Tom Huddlestone managed to recover the situation with a timely challenge on the loose ball. This enabled Walker to carry the ball forward, and feed Lennon. Aaron made a run, then passed back to Walker, who tried a shot but it was well off target.

Southampton manager Nigel Adkins took off Puncheon and put on Mayuka. Huddlestone was soon replaced by Livermore. Saints had a free kick after 65 minutes. Friedel came for the ball but was unable to claim it, as Fonte took a shot, and Gallas conceded a corner. From the corner taken on the right, Rodriguez was able to fire home from short range from the near post, to fire up the home fans and to give the Saints a fighting chance of securing something from the game. Rodriguez had another chance within two minutes, after a ball from the right by Fox, but he fired wide this time.

Defoe went on a good run, and when he had space to his left, he chose to run into trouble to his right, and the run ended. There was more pressure on the Spurs defence as the game moved towards its close, and Michael Dawson replaced Dempsey in added time to help shore up that defensive campaign. He succeeded, and Spurs secured the points, but in the end, the win was not so convincing as it should have been.

Now we have a tough Capital One Cup game at Norwich, before we need to take maximum points from Wigan next Saturday. This will be important with consecutive away games to Man City and Arsenal to follow in our Premier League campaign.

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