Verdict: Saints 0 Plymouth 0

Last updated : 26 November 2008 By Saint Bobby

Unsurprisingly, Saints named an unchanged side to take on Plymouth at the increasingly cursed St. Mary's stadium this evening. Skipper Kelvin Davies played behind Skacel, Perry, Cork and James along the backline.

Schneiderlin and Surman anchored the midfield with Wright-Phillips on the left flank and Lallana on the right. McGoldrick started as the support striker behind Jordan Roberston.

Forecast, Pearce, Wotton, Gasmi and Paterson filled the bench.

First half: Fast out of the blocks

Saints seemed determined to take Saturday's away form into the match from the first whistle, with BW-P looking like a man possessed inside a minute, leaving Argyle's right-back for dead. But for all the early pressure and pretty football, the visitors had the best chance on 8 minutes, but a soft shot was drilled straight at Davis.

McGoldrick has seemed incapable of scoring by his own efforts at present, but a reasonable effort took a wicked deflection and clipped just wide of the far post with the keeper stranded.

Once again, the build up play looked impressive until we actually approached the opponents' box, with Surman and BW-P in particular looking capable.

But McGoldrick and Robertson seem guileless at delivering the finished product, with the former failing to play the Sheffield loanee in after 23 minutes and the latter losing his footing on several occasions.

Even Rudi Skacel is taking his wing-back duties too literally - crossing when he should have gone alone in the 38th minute.

An excellent run from BW-P brought a corner in the dying seconds, McGoldrick connected well but couldn't find the net - as too often been the case this term.

Half-time: Saints 0 Plymouth 0

Second half: Saints fizzle out

Argyle began the second half with a bit more aggression and Jordan Robertson looked increasingly out of sorts, being unable to hold up the ball, get in good positions or pose much of a physical threat.

Plymouth's more direct approach meant they surrendered a lot of possession, but actually started to look the more likely to score. Southampton were fairly pretty but always seemed to want to convene a committee meeting on the edge of the box rather than play in a fast through ball. This just won't yield dividends against well-organised teams who are happy to put two banks of four players behind the ball.

Even set pieces don't look like improving Saints' woeful home statistics. Skacel won a free kick just after the hour in a promising position on the edge of the box, but Schneiderlin's direct effort was dismal. Corner kicks - of which Southampton had a hatful - were all comfortably dealt with by a tough Plymouth defence.

Argyle looked the more likely to score on the counter attack - simply by playing the ball quickly down the flanks and pouring support players forward into the box.

Robertson was finally put out of his misery with 25 minutes to go as young Matt Paterson took up the lone and lonely striker's role. He hustled and bustled, but to limited effect.

The belief that Saints might take all the points dissipated from both the players and the crowd. Some suicide defending - mixed with an apparent desire to again extend playing total football to our own penalty area gave Argyle a real opportunity to snatch the points. But the visitors squandered two gift-wrapped chances.

Saints' best effort came with twenty minutes to go, McGoldrick was played in by Lallana and rounded the keeper but he couldn't get enough power behind the shot to beat the last defender on the line.

The last throw of the dice was taking off McGoldrick and giving a debut to Romain Gasmi with ten minutes to go, Lallana switched to the support role behind Paterson. But by then, the match was petering out to a totally forgettable 0-0 draw.

Pymouth do not really look like serious play-off contenders. But they are a competent and hard-working team at Championship level. Saints look quite pretty, but where's the money shot?

Full time: Saints 0 Plymouth 0

Verdict: The stats at home tell a worrying story

Ten league games have brought just one victory and a pitiful seven goals at St. Mary's. It's only Southampton's hugely impressive away form that has ensured the club are just above the relegation places rather than rooted to the bottom of the table. This is more than just bad luck or the team failing to gell in the early part of the season. There is a systemic problem.

We obviously need to find a striker that can find the back of the net regularly. Not easy to do given the recent financial news that the club lost £5m over the last year. But if there is a way to reintegrate Rasiak when his loan deal ends, it does need to be considered. Jordan Robertson is most definitely not the answer.

But we also need to play more directly in the last third of the pitch. We always seemed to delay the final through ball. On occasions, the players even looked like they wanted to convene a committee meeting once they were camped outside the Argyle box. We need a bit more speed and a bit more strength. Jason Euell's return from suspension can't come fast enough.

I still think we have enough about us to stay up - and possibly even to avoid a relegation scrap, but our home form is no longer just poor, it's approaching Derby County levels of laughability. If Poortvliet can fix that, then mid-table safety is a real possibility. But for that to be the height of our ambitions shows just how far we've fallen.