Norwich v Saints Report
9th March 3pm
Southampton travelled to Norwich desperate to gain some much needed points after receiving two defeats against teams around them in the relegation dogfight. In bad weather the game was never likely to be a game full of skill but there was the odd moment or two.
Mauricio Pochettino made three changes to the side that started against QPR last time out. Jos Hooiveld, Jay Rodriguez and Luke Shaw all returned to the side, with Hooiveld partnering Jose Fonte in the centre of defence.
Maya Yoshida moved over to right back which was a surprise with Nathaniel Clyne having played consistently well this season. Rodriguez came in with Jason Puncheon also being unlucky not to start.
Saints got the match underway with Morgan Schneiderlin and Gaston Ramirez taking the first touches on a rain-sodden Carrow Road pitch. The rain which started well before kick-off was making the pitch both sticky in places and slippery in others.
The game began with both sides working hard and at a frantic pace. Saints continued their high pressing game which meant Norwich had a lot of their possession in their own half.
Southampton created the first decent opening when a low centre from Schneiderlin was beaten away by Norwich keeper Mark Bunn, who then tipped over Adam Lallana's rising 20-yard drive.
Norwich were struggling to get hold of the ball in midfield as the visitors continued to press. Though when right-back Russell Martin did get forward and float in a teasing ball into the penalty area, goalkeeper Boruc got there ahead of Kei Kamara, who was making his first start since a loan move from Kansas City.
Moments after, Fonte almost picked out Lallana once more with a drilled cross into the area which just evaded the midfielder. Then Rodriguez fired over from distance, with Saints looking the most likely to score first.
Lambert then fed Ramirez in on goal with a perfectly weighted pass, but the Uruguayan attempted an audacious chip over Bunn did just enough to make a block.
Finally on 29 minutes Norwich made their first real attempt on Artur Boruc`s goal which arrived from a set-piece. Snodgrass had a shot at goal which Boruc who started going the wrong way did well to get to and save.
Saints returned to the offensive with Luke Shaw this time making a go of it for himself down the left flank. He collected Schneiderlin`s pass before driving into the area to fire a shot at Bunn.
On 35 minutes Norwich were forced into a change as Anthony Pilkington limped off injured with Wes Hoolahan taking his place in midfield.
A thrilling end to the half saw both teams attack with vigour in an attempt to snaffle a late goal. Norwich were awarded a free-kick on the right side of the Saints area for a handball decision against Lallana. Norwich couldn`t take advantage even though they threw everything into the box to try and score.
The second half began with snow falling and the conditions worsening. Saints had a golden chance to take the lead at the start of the second half. Jay Rodriguez burst down the left and cut into the penalty area before his cross was cleared by Sebastien Bassong. The ball fell kindly to Lallana 12 yards out, but he blazed the clear chance wildly over.
The pace of the match intensified as Japan defender Yoshida produced a superb block to prevent Holt getting on the end of Snodgrass' cross after a great knockdown by Kamara. With the pace of the game quicker than ever the fans were certainly being entertained. Even if some of the excitement was due to basic errors.
Though Saints held the advantage they were struggling to find a way through. The game was more end to end and considering the conditions both teams were doing their utmost to score. A Saints attack went close to breaking the deadlock when Ramirez played in Rodriguez. His first time shot was blocked by Bunn, but the ball rebounded only far as Lambert whose shot cleared the bar.
Then came the first of two extremely controversial penalty calls by Mark Clattenburg. Luke Shaw made another of his runs and as he entered the penalty area he was brought down. The foul looked a good couple of feet inside the Norwich area but Saints were only awarded a kick outside the box.
Guly came on to replace Ramirez on 70 minutes and nearly saw Saints break through but Rodriguez saw his cross miss the red shirts and Norwich cleared. Then with Saints upping the pressure Lallana was replaced by Ward-Prowse.
Though Saints were looking dangerous they were grateful to Maya Yoshida again when Hoolahan played Snodgrass into the area. The midfielder looked odds on to score after rounding Boruc, but the Japanese defender pounced on the ball perfectly to intercept and clear.
Norwich switched Kei Kamara with Luciano Becchio in a bid to freshen up their attacking options. Saints continued to threaten though with Fonte next to have a go though his volley skewed wide.
As time ran out we then saw the second penalty drama unfold. With the match heading for a draw, referee Mark Clattenburg awarded the Norwich a spot-kick when Luke Shaw appeared to brush against Holt as they ran out of the box after the ball.
Justice was served as Artur Boruc made a superb save by guessing the right way to go for the firmly struck Grant Holt penalty kick.
The referee blew for time and Saints had somehow seen another prominent performance denied the deserved win.
Morgan Schneiderlin was his usual hard working self making numerous tackles and interceptions as well as covering the whole pitch.
But today we saw Jay Rodriguez run tirelessly and his link up play with Lambert is taking shape and soon he will start to turn his quality performances into match winning ones with some goals. Jay gets M.O.M.
Consternation at the team selection was quickly changed after this performance. Not one player let us down apart from the finishing being less than desired.
It looked as though Chris had no ideas as to how to stop the Saints dominance.