Monday, 30 January 2017

St Mary's Stadium

Programme covers get more like GQ every week

Southampton 3-0 Leicester City

22nd January 2017

Rarely, I think, have I attended a top flight match between two sides more in need of  a victory.  Southampton, following their now ritual summer shedding of manager and star players had, after a shaky start, picked up form more than a little.  And a pre-Christmas victory at neighbours Bournemouth had seen them rise to the giddy heights of seventh in The Premiership.  But since then four league defeats on the trot had followed, with ten goals shipped in the process.  A win over Leicester City to stop the rot was sorely required.

And what of The Reigning Champions?  Well, they had, quite remarkably failed to win any of their eleven league matches on the road thus far this season.  Surely the loss of the N'golo Kante's defensive resolve alone could not account for this state of affairs?

But is was The Saints who won this one 3-0 without, to my untutored eyes anyway, having to do terribly much.  Young James WARD-PROWSE opened the scoring after 26th minutes, to which Jay RODRIGUEZ added 13 minutes later – debatable defending contributing in both cases.

BBC pundit Danny Murphy – one of the few on the station with any duplicity of brain cells, it appears – wrote a lengthy and informative piece detailing Leicester City's part in their own downfall this afternoon; and I can do no better than link to it here.

We did, I have to say, see occasional glimpses of the lightning-quick breaks which had been The Foxes' hallmark last season, but no-one had appeared to have informed Demarai Gray of how things should work.  On three occasions in the first-half, he broke swiftly down the left and wasted each opportunity by cutting in onto his right foot to shoot either wildly over the bar or tamely into the goalkeeper's arms.  Vardy and Okazaki having bust a gut each time to get into the box for the pass that never came.  Quite how they hid their frustration I don’t know.

The 3-0 bashing was completed when The Saints' Serbian midfielder Dušan Tadić converted a penalty award in the last few minutes.

Panorama of St Mary's Stadium, Southampton.

Southampton v Leicester - January 2017

Leicester's Nampalys Mendy dances with Pierre-Emile Højbjerg

Southampton v Leicester - January 2017

Robert Huth and Virgil van Dijk doing something together.

Southampton v Leicester - January 2017

Southampton v Leicester - January 2017

Huth hoofs clear.

Claudio Ranieri watches his diamond fail to sparkle

Claude Puel cannot believe his good fortune., about this diamond, lads.

Jamie Vardy kicks off the second half.

Ryan Bertrand

van Dijk left the field injured to a chorus from the away fans of "You'll never see him again"

Southampton v Leicester - January 2017

Wes Morgan's "Own Goal"...

...although, it did appear to me he was shoved into the ball...

...fortunately for Morgan, offside was flagged.

Southampton v Leicester - January 2017

Southampton v Leicester - January 2017

Southampton v Leicester - January 2017

Southampton v Leicester - January 2017

Dusan Tadic's penalty to make it 3-0

I loved the fact someone has tossed their bobble-hat into the air to celebrate Tadic's goal.
It has not been photo-shopped.....honest.

Panorama of St Mary's Stadium, Southampton.

St Mary’s disappointed me, I have to report; particularly coming after the AMEX’s sleek feminines curves and padded seats, and Selhurst Parks' pleasing jumble of stands of varying vintages.

Southampton's home, by contrast, is clutterred with cantilever supports on the outside, and is dully identikit on the inside.  We could easily have been at Middlesbrough, Stoke or Sunderland, I reflected.  The one redeeming feature was the translucent panels which encircled much of the stadium behind the top row of seating.  The stewards were happy to let folks stand up there, producing the effect of a ring of ghost-like silhouettes (Spirits from The Dell?) watching the game.  But that really was a stimulating as things got.

Ugly cantilever supports abound.

One thing I did like about St Mary's was the huge bike shed.

St Mary's Stadium, Southampton.

Facade to Chapel Stand at St Mary's Stadium.
Named for the area of Southampton it faces (so wiki sez).

Finally, I suppose to finish on a positive note of sorts.  Southampton was our final footballing stop on a weekend trip which had already taken in Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace.  Aware that the grounds of the last two named were notoriously car-unfriendly areas, we had chosen to travel to the matches on Southern trains.  Doing the arithmetic later I worked out we had, if we included those trips with changes, undertook twelve train journeys over the three days.

I do appreciate this was a weekend (and also that Southern was going to be on strike the following day), but I can only speak as we  found; which was that our travel on the much-maligned Southern line was for the most part both punctual and pleasant.

The closest we came to any grief was when Son and I and perhaps a dozen others were disgorged out at Ford Station, five minutes after our connecting train to Southampton had been timetabled to leave.  However, as it transpired, both trains had been delayed by around 10 minutes or so, so our connection arrived presently.  

But nevertheless stepping out onto that freezing cold platform in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere, suspecting we may have missed out connection was a moderately disconcerting experience.

Panorama of St Mary's Stadium, Southampton.

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