Verdict: Saints 1 Sheffield Wednesday 1

Last updated : 06 December 2008 By Saint Bobby

Line-ups: As you were, guys.

Schneiderlin failed a late fitness test and so Alex Pearce started in central defence alongside Chris Perry, with Cork pushed up to join Drew Surman as an anchoring midfielder. Otherwise the starting XI were unchanged with Skacel and James starting as wing-backs, McGoldrick in the hole, Lallana and Wright-Phillips on the flanks and Robertson as the out-and-out striker. Kelvin Davis retained the captain's armband.

Forecast, Wotton, Gillett, Mills and Paterson sat on the bench. Jason Euell, surprisingly, failed to return to the squad having now completed his unjust three match suspension.

First half: One way traffic and a special goal.

Saints began as they ended last week's game at The Valley with Cork and Surman acting as the drivers of crisp, attacking play.

The players have sometimes been guilty of not switching play from flank to flank as swiftly as they could and therefore too often run into congested areas, but with 14 minutes gone Drew Surman found BW-P in space on the left. The rejuvenated Wright Phillips bombed down the flank before his striker's instincts kicked in. He cut inside, leaving his bemused marker for dead, and - from 18 yards- planted a wonderful, curled shot beyond the keeper's futile dive.

For once, it seemed that taking an early lead might provide a platform to build from. Saints looked particularly strong with the triumvirate of Rudi, Bradley and Drew opening up the left wing. And at the other end, Southampton's backline is finally robust.

In his programme notes, the crocked Killer Svensson speculates that he may not be an automatic selection even if he does finally return from injury. He's right. Having finally conceded that Perry is a far better option than the inexperienced and fragile Lancashire, Poortvliet has now surely found our best possible pairing in Perry and Pearce. Bewilderingly, the latter is considered surplus to requirements at Reading.

The back four limited Wednesday to one long-distant effort in the first period and looked unflappable across the line.

But - and I may as well just start cutting and pasting this from previous match reports - we lack punch up front.

Jordan Robertson is not so much George Foreman as George Formby.

The problem is not the agonising frustration of missing a hatful of easy chances.

It's worse than that.

You just can't see McGoldrick or Robertson helping to create many. The former headed over from a neat free kick just before half time. But in truth, Saints didn't create enough gilt-edged chances after taking the lead.

Half-time: Saints 1 Sheffield Wednesday 0

Second-half: Punished for taking our foot off the pedal

Wednesday didn't storm out of the traps in the second half. But about ten minutes into it, they collectively realised that Saints didn't have the bite to finish them off.

Possession and territorial advantage both began to switch to the visitors. But it wasn't really backs-to-the wall stuff for Southampton.

Cork and Surman provided defensive assistance and a readily available outlet for the backline.

And Saints still looked the more dangerous going forward. But there were never enough red and white shirts in the box to get on the end of a decent move.

This was particularly apparent when Matt Paterson replaced Robertson on the hour mark. In the 4-2-1-2-1 system, the striker can only drift down the flanks if he can be confident that his teammates are taking up advanced attacking positions.

McGoldrick would attempt to do so, but launching a single body was shown as the inefficient tactic it is. In fact, his work rate was truly admirable, given that by the time he was subbed for Gillett with ten minutes to go, he'd been trying to run off an injury for about an hour.

Finally, Wednesday's semi-pressure told. With their first effort on target, Tudgay placed a shot beyond the despairing Davis with two minutes to go.

Frustration could have turned to agony. But deep into stoppage time, Kelvin Davis batted away a decent effort with a strong reflex save.

Both teams left with the point they deserved. There wasn't enough on show here for even the most devout Saints fan to feel genuinely robbed. But there's every reason to groan. Again.

Full-time: Saints 1 Sheffield Wednesday 1

Man of the match: Drew Surman

Verdict: Juggle the attacking line

I'm a slender bloke and just twelve stone in weight. But I am willing to personally carry the lumbering Jordan Robertson back to Sheffield on my own shoulders if this is what it takes to force a reshuffle of the front four.

Also, the prodigious talent of Lallana is being stranded on the flanks. He can fill in as a winger, but is only doing so because of the threadbare nature of our squad.

Jason Euell needs to be deployed as an attacking option. And - depending on where we get to with loan players come January - possibly even as the lone striker.

It's important to remember than in the Poortvliet system, the spearhead striker ideally needs to be a 20 goal a season poacher. Failing that, they need to hold-up the ball, link up play and facilitate others in taking up attacking positions. Neither McGoldrick nor Robertson can realistically be expected to do any of this.

Retaining Alex Pearce and Drew Surman is surely an imperative. The former becomes a free agent in June. I'd like to keep Cork too, but the majestic Schneiderlin and the improving Gillett are good options as anchormen.

Saints have now gone four games without defeat. But in those four games, Bradley Wright-Phillips has been our only scorer.

Poortvliet should stick to his admirable footballing principles. It looks as if - after just three months - he may be building something that does actually work and, in time, may even dazzle.

He might not have the cash to bring in a top class striker. But surely - please God - if he's stuck with the players he's got, then he's at least got to shuffle the deck.