Verdict: Saints 0 Plymouth 2

Last updated : 20 February 2008 By Saint Bobby
There was a lot of huff and puff and a certain degree of effort but a terrifying lack of quality and once again but to the sword by an uninspiring but well-drilled middle-ranking team. With thirteen games to go, it is becoming increasingly difficult to see where the ten or so points needed to secure our second flight status are going to come from.


With Ostlund again experiencing hamstring trouble, Wayne Thomas filled in as right back. Vignal returned from a broken arm to take up the left back position. Andrew Davies and skipper Darren Powell completed the back four.

A midfield three of Surman, Wright and Euell slotted in behind a front trio of Wright-Phillips, Saganowski and John.

First half - reasonable start, downhill from there

Saints dictated the early play, with Vignal co-ordinating the set pieces to some effect. But everything started to unravel when Powell limped off injured after 21 minutes. Viafara joined the midfield, with Jermaine Wright dropping into the back four.

After a superb Drew Surman effort from 35 yards went just wide, the promising start quickly turned into another home disaster. On the half hour mark, careless play by Euell and Surman allowed Halmosi in to give the visitors the lead from their first attack.

Amazingly, the game was killed off as a contest just three minutes later, when a relatively tame - but goal bound - effort from Jim Paterson was inexplicably left by Kelvin Davies and found its way into the net.

Saints did finally manage their first shot on target - from Stern John - just before the break, but by the time the referee blew for half-time, it felt like the points had already been lost and the only remaining job was to prevent a full-scale collapse and try and win back some sort of backing from the sparse crowd.

Second half - dearth of quality

So limited are Saints' options on the bench, that putting on Hammill for Wright-Phillips at half-time felt like a last throw of the dice. Southampton continued to push hard after the interval but never came close to showing the guile or imagination necessary to get through an organised Plymouth defence.

Saints didn't look capable of carving out any clear-cut chances, let alone clawing back a two goal deficit. Plymouth were happy to close out the game, and indeed continued to threaten on the break. Idiakez was thrown on for Euell with 13 minutes to go - the latter having endured an embarrassingly bad game even by his own recent, clueless standards.

There were three minutes of stoppage time. But I didn't watch them. For the first time in over quarter of a century of supporting the Saints, I left a match early. We thought things couldn't get any worse after the Bristol Rovers debacle. They just did. Get ready for League One.