Saints Beat Chelsea
30th March 3pm
After beating Man City and Liverpool at home recently there was a mood of cautious optimism in the camp as they prepared to face a Chelsea side battling for a Champions League spot for next season.
Manager Mauricio went for a workmanlike looking side with Adam Lallana failing a late fitness test and Steve Davis preferred instead of Gaston Ramirez. A decision that proved a success with Davis playing a big part in our win.
From the start Saints showed their intent and as early as the 2nd minute Jay Rodriguez had a half chance which he fired over. Then in a swift counter Rodriguez broke with speed from the halfway line before shooting tamely for Petr Cech to save with ease.
The game continued with Saints proving to be the side with the upper hand. Odd moments of Chelsea pressure were met by a resilient Saints outfit determined to press forward at every opportunity.
Puncheon went on a mazy dribble that saw him nearly get through but for a last ditch tackle as he was about to shoot. Then In the next move, a Clyne cross from the right was diverted into the path of Lambert, but with the angle against him, his shot was kept out by a sea of Chelsea bodies.
Finally in the 23rd minute the breakthrough finally arrived. A delightful move saw Saints sweep forward and after a great one two with Steve Davis Jay Rodriguez coolly sidefooted the ball past the despairing Cech to give Saints a deserved lead.
Two minutes later Fernando Torres beat Jos Hooiveld but he had handled before netting and the goal was disallowed.
The home side continued to cause Chelsea problems through midfield, but the Blues responded with a series of long balls forward, the latter of which fell to Victor Moses who forced Boruc into a fingertip save from an angle.
The shot which Luke Shaw nearly blocked saw Saints pegged back. The resulting Marko Marin`s corner was firmly headed past Boruc by skipper John TERRY with 32 minutes on the watch.
Undeterred Saints continued to push forward and were soon awarded a free kick five yards outside the left of the penalty area. Rickie Lambert stepped up and majestically smashed a superb curling shot beyond the reach of Cech into the left of the target.
Saints continued to hold sway as they searched for a third goal maintaining their hold on the game in all areas of the field as the visitors were forced into defending more and more as the first half ended.
Artur Boruc failed to come out for the second half with Kelvin Davis taking his place. The half began with Saints again starting the quicker. A Steven Davis free kick into the area was partially cleared, and Clyne followed up to test Cech at his near post with a thunderous low drive that the 'keeper just got to with a block.
Chelsea began to get more control and slowly started to look the more threatening side. They began pressing but a sea of red kept them at bay though Kelvin Davis was forced into action in the 58th minute.
Azpilicueta laid the ball into the path of Moses whose high effort appeared to have enough on it to beat our 'keeper, but the club captain produced a terrific one-handed save to keep the shot out.
In the 60th minute Eden Hazard was introduced in place of Marin and two minutes later Saints brought on James Ward-Prowse as Puncheon made way moments after being clattered by Terry as he drove towards goal.
Even with Chelsea having more of the ball Saints still posed a serious threat with the lively and dangerous Rodriguez persistently causing problems to the Chelsea defence. Luke Shaw also did well with one great run that ended up with a block giving Saints a corner.
A second change was made by the visitors, who switched Ramires for John Obi Mikel in midfield on 72 minutes. Then they made their final change soon after with Yossi Benayoun replacing Oscar.
The final fifteen minutes saw Chelsea desperately striving for a means of forcing a leveller but Saints held firm. With 6 minutes remaining Steve Davis was replaced by Daniel Fox. Frank Lampard had a free kick outside our box but the kick whistled over the bar and Saints held firm until the final whistle blew for time.
FT 2-1 and Saints had shown yet again that they are now a team with a purpose.
Yet again our manager showed that he can change things with team selection and the preparation of his team.
His selection didn't work for him.