Writer: Abe Hawken
Date:Monday December 29 2008
St. Mary's Stadium
David McGoldrick's first goal since the 1st November put the Saints just 16 minutes from their first home win in over two months.
Shane Long's header six minutes from time rescued a point for the Royal's which plumps the Saints into the bottom three, while Reading cemented their place in the top two over the Christmas period.
The home side pushed the Royal's back in the opening stages, similarly to the tie at the Madejski in November. Southampton's hard work nearly paid off on 21 minutes when David McGoldrick smartly turned inside the box and powered a shot, only to see it smash the crossbar.
Second place Reading didn't offer much in the first half with Stephen Hunt looking the liveliest but unable to calve open the resilient Saints defence. It was the Saints, who started the game in 21st place who went in at half time playing the better football.
The Saints came out for the second half all guns blazing - with McGoldrick leading the front of the attack. It was McGoldrick who had the crowd on their feet when he went on another powerful run, seeing his first effort blocked and then smashing the second over Federici's bar from six yards.
You sensed that with Saints not taking their chances, a team like Reading would only go up the other end and punish you for not taking the opportunities. This was nearly the case when Jimmy Kebe who scored for Reading at the Madejski against Saints, went agonisingly close from six yards.
In the 74th minute the Saints ended their two game goal drought when substitute Kayne McLaggon broke through Reading's midfield to play in McGoldrick whose composed finish went underneath the diving Federici.
This sparked a Reading revival, with the game being like basketball, with both teams sprinting from one end to another. Every Saints fan was dreading the worst as a flurry of blue and white hooped shirts came attacking towards their fans behind Kelvin Davis' goal.
A dramatic finish was once again the story on the south coast, when Shane Long headed home from close range to level the game 1-1. With the game levelled, both sides were pushing for was a vital three points (both for different reasons) and it was Reading who could have snatched it, when Kevin Doyle's header crashed against Davis' bar - denying Doyle his 17th goal of the season.
The result leaves the Saints stranded in the bottom three with Doncaster Rovers and Nottingham Forest both winning. This is not a pretty sight for the young side and Saints fans as they enter the New Year.
Next for the Saints is an exciting 3rd round F.A. Cup tie against Manchester United - yet it Barnsley away the following Saturday which is a must needed win I'm afraid.
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Date:Monday December 29 2008
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