Saints v Seagulls
St Mary's Stadium
Southampton had their home winning run come to an end in a thrilling clash with top of the table Brighton. The game ending 0-0 with keeper Kelvin Davis making a great save from a Brighton penalty to keep the scores level in the second half.
Richard Chaplow failed a late fitness test and that allowed Morgan Schneiderlin a chance to renew his partnership in central midfield with Dean Hammond.
Saints started on the front foot and were awarded a free-kick just outside the box in the third minute. Rickie Lambert stepped to take the kick and smashed a low drive towards the corner of the goal but a slight deflection was enough to make it hit the post and go behind for a corner.
Saints kept up the pressure until Brighton made a counter attack with Jaidi giving away a free-kick in a similar type of position to the one Saints had had. The ball was played to Bennett but his shot went well wide.
Saints continued to be the more aggressive team and Hammond fired over in the 13th minute. Then a poor goal kick from Ankergren gave Barnard a sight of goal but he shot over.
In the 19th minute the crowd rose in anticipation as Jaidi stormed forward bursting into the Brighton half before passing to Barnard. He kept going and met the return but his header went just wide.
Moments after a stoppage for Battipiedi the brighton defender, Lallana sent in a corner for Hammond to head just wide.
Then in the next move Battipiedi fouled Hammond to give Saints a free-kick. Brighton struggled to clear before the ball fell kindly for Hammond but his shot was blazed wide yet again.
Some superb play between Schneiderlin and Lallana saw Lallana put a great ball through to Schneiderlin before receiving a pinpoint pass which he struck low only to see Ankergren again make a good save.
Still Saints pressed with both Chamberlain and Dickson making some good runs before El-Abd was injured causing another stoppage. The defender had to be replaced by Lewis Dunk as he was carried off.
Schneiderlin got booked for a foul on half-way which means he will be unavailable for the next game, having now been booked five times.
Shortly after Lallana was blatantly fouled in the Brighton box as he was bundled over but the referee turned down the appeal waving play on. This only heightened the disappointment that us fans felt having seen such a powerful display from the team.
Maybe the penalty refusal spurred them on but as time ran out Brighton suddenly turned more attack minded. Two attempts on our goal were made with Davis saving the first well before seeing the next go well over as Dicker blazed wildly as a corner fell to him.
The second half began in much the same manner as the first. With 5 minutes gone Schneiderlin found Richardson with a great pass and Frazer whipped in a cross that Lambert met but he headed just wide.
Brighton responded by substituting Battipiedi with Jamie Smith and slowly the game opened up with Brighton coming much more into the game.
As the game grew more even Lallana drove forward and forced Ankergren into a good save whilst at the other end Jaidi had to be fully focused to divert possible danger away conceding a corner.
Shortly after only an alert Davis saved possible danger as he rushed out to head clear as Chris Woods ran on to a clever through ball which would have left him one on one with the keeper.
With the game now more of an end to end competition Lambert crossed a free-kick into the box which was met by Fonte and the rebound from his header fell back to Lambert who headed onto the top of the net with a looping header from fully 25 yards.
Ashley Barnes was then substituted by Brighton with Glenn Murray replacing him. Within three minutes Murray fell in the box to win Brighton a penalty. Hotly disputed by the Saints defenders though it was, we waited while Jaidi was booked for his protestations, for the penalty to be taken.
Chris Wood stepped up to take the penalty and ran forward to strike the ball firmly to the left of Davis, who responded brilliantly by guessing correctly, and diving down to his left saving the spot kick.
Driven on by the crowd Saints again came close when Chamberlain did well and crossed into the box but ht edanger was somehow cleared.
Saints then substituted Schneiderlin and Barnard with Holmes and Guly. The subs then combined brilliantly as they made an immediate attempt on the Brighton goal but again the Seagulls held firm.
Brighton were now much more of a threat and Richardson did well to clear a dangroes cross from Murray with a clutch of blue shirts waiting at the far post.
Saints responded with a cross from Holmes which Lallana headed goalwards only to see Ankergren yet again make the save, turning it round the post for a corner. Two quick corners came to nothing as Brighton continued to defy the hosts.
Guly ended a swift Brighton attack and as Holmes tried to break through Kishishev fouled him to get himself booked.
Chamberlain was then substituted with Butterfield as the game neared the end.
Alate burst from Lallana saw him beat two players before crossing for Guly but the Brazilian had inched offside. Saints were still pressing when the referee brought the game to a close.
A nil nil draw but far from boring and it was clear to all that here we had seen two of the leading contenders for honours this season.