Southampton claimed a solid point against Stoke at the Britannia in a game that was decided more by the weather than by any football on show, and which allowed Asmir Begovic to score 14 seconds into the game past a hapless and helpless Artur Boruc.
With the wind dictating the game, there was little either side could do to enforce their style of football on the game, with the Saints particularly struggling early on playing against the wind and Stoke taking advantage of this by resorting back to the long ball football so famously used by Tony Pulis. To be fair, given the conditions this wasn’t a bad idea and it really put Saints on the back foot, with Stoke winning cheap set pieces, one of which saw an inexplicable miss by Ryan Shawcross. Quite simply we just didn’t come out of the blocks, we didn’t know what had hit us with regards to the weather and just couldn’t cope with such unusual conditions.
As the first half went on though we did find our feet and began to pass the ball around superbly, and caused them some real trouble going forward. This was summed up by a truly superb passing goal finished by an excellent header from Jay Rodriguez. At the centre of this was James Ward Prowse who began the move and put in the fantastic cross for Rodriguez. Ward Prowse was terrific all game and again confirmed the quality that he possesses, being another shining example of our burgeoning youth set up. What Ward Prowse does so well is dictate play, always looking up for the best pass to play, and for such a young player he has a real footballing intelligence which will take him very far in the game.
We continued to press in the second half and although we didn’t create a huge number of clear cut chances, we had the better of the game, and enjoyed good spells of possession. It must also be said, given some of my criticism of him previously that Victor Wanyama was excellent for the second game in a row, tackling excellently as usual but also keeping it well too. He seems to have realised that simple passes are key for him and this has stopped him for undoing all his good tackling work by then giving the ball away easily to whoever happens to be standing nearby.
As I say though, there isn’t too much to say, good or bad, about Saints, or for that matter Stoke, in this game as it was a game so heavily dictated by the weather. Neither team were in a position to fully play their game and it led to a lot of cancelling each other out and not many moments of pure quality, aside from Southampton’s equaliser. As a result I think a draw was a fair result and certainly one I’ll take given the circumstances, as it continues our unbeaten record going into a home game against Hull where the expectation will be there for us to take three points before starting a very tough run of fixtures.
Finally though, I do think it is worth acknowledging how unlucky Artur Boruc was. There was nothing he could have done about that goal, and for him to come out at the end of the game and promise he would get those two points back is a mark of the man and displayed the sort of confidence you’d expect from such a player. He has won us far more points than he has lost us, and I would not hold him responsible for the goal at all. Also, fair play to ex-Pompey keeper Begovic for his reaction too, not gloating or celebrating the goal was commendable and his comments spoke volumes about him as a man as well, which is not something I will often say about a former Skate.