Team: Green, Isla, Ferdinand, Caulker, Traore, Phillips (Hoilett), Sandro (Henry), Fer, Kranjcar, Vargas (Zamora), Austin.
Subs Not Used: McCarthy, Hill, Onuoha, Dunne.
Attendance: 30,504 (including 2,847 Rangers fans)
On a day when I would have taken a point before the gamewe almost did just that. We weathered the early storm in the first-half, rode our luck, slow, sluggish and almost void of ideas going forward and the loss of Sandro didn’t help.
Somewhat better in the second-half and we came close to nicking a point. However, this side lacks both; movement, pace and confidence going forwardstatic is the word, moreover, we are leaking goals.
It’s still early and oh so easy to criticise players who are struggling, and indeed, one or two who are simply not good enough. So to the positives
Green – kept us in with a shout on more than one occasion.
Traore – so much untapped potentialyour call Hoddle.
Caulker – never fazed.
Fer – worked tirelessly.
Kranjcar – a fine example of what we as fans expect.
Henry – done well, broke it up and gave his all.
Hoilett – made a big impact when he came on and changed the game.
Vargas – worked his socks offgreat movement.
Zamora – showed how to hold the ball updecent impact.
And just a thoughtwhy is Nedum Onuoha not the first name on the team sheet? All that said, I’m still convinced we will be fine. Great turnoutwe were loud and proud.
Maybe more clubs should follow Southampton’s lead and have a meltdown, because it has not done them much harm. People were queuing up to write off Southampton after a summer in which they lost half a team and their manager, Mauricio Pochettino, but Ronald Koeman’s side are on a mission to make their critics think twice before being so premature in the future.
Clubs in crisis are not supposed to be second in the Premier League, nor are they supposed to have strikers who can settle a match with an overhead kick of such brilliance and athleticism that it would not have made a difference if there had been two Robert Greens in goal for Queen’s Park Rangers -Graziano Pelle by name, Pele by nature.
Southampton were still reeling after Charlie Austin’s excellent volley for QPR had made it 1-1 when Shane Long, just on as substitute, sent a tame cross to the far post from the right. Dusan Tadic, hoping to do more than keep the move alive, headed the ball high in the air. Then Pelle, holding off Steven Caulker, controlled the ball. Then he controlled his body in a way that did not seem humanly possible. Then the ball was looping past a stunned Green and into the top-left corner. Then everyone in the stadium picked their jaws off the ground. “It will be one of the best goals of the season,” Koeman said.
It was a crushing blow for QPR, yet although they could bemoan the quality of Pelle’s finish, Harry Redknapp’s side were not unlucky to lose, even though Niko Kranjcar almost rescued a point with a free kick that struck the woodwork.
“We kept going,” Redknapp said after a disappointing return to St Mary’s, but only because Southampton wasted so many chances.
Redknapp is too long in the tooth to have been affected by the inevitable abuse from Southampton fans, who have not forgiven him for his part in their relegation in 2005 or his subsequent departure to Portsmouth.
He took heart from QPR’s persistence and there were a few nervy moments for Southampton to endure at the end. Yet this was still another defeat on the road for QPR and secretly Redknapp must have been grateful that Southampton’s profligacy meant his side did not suffer as much as they did in the recent capitulations at Manchester United and Tottenham.
Southampton, whose players are enjoying life so much under Koeman that they gave up their day off after beating Arsenal in the Capital One Cup, tore into QPR from the start and the visitors’ cause was not helped when they lost Sandro in the 11th minute after a clash of heads with Sadio Mane. “The doctors now have to err on the side of caution,” Redknapp said.
Mane, making his league debut for Southampton, was a busy menace and Tadic, who hit the post, Pelle and Morgan Schneiderlin all wasted opportunities, while QPR did not threaten until first-half stoppage time, Austin drifting a shot wide.
That was a glimpse of the fool-proof QPR plan: be terrible, lull Southampton into a sense of false security pinch a goal. Yet the breakthrough finally arrived after 54 minutes when Mane’s glorious back-heel found the on-rushing Ryan Bertrand, who drilled a low shot underneath Green for his first Southampton goal.
Tadic and Victor Wanyama then went close to adding a second for Southampton, before QPR equalised when Austin showed outstanding technique to trap Eduardo Vargas’s cross, swivel and crash a volley past Fraser Forster. QPR thought they had got away with it. Pelle thought otherwise.
Jacob Steinberg – The Observer
We were soon coming under pressure from the home side and at times our defence was nowhere tight or coordinated enough. Rob Green made an outstanding stop when he came charging off his line and the ball cannoned off his head and out to safety.
Later, within the period of one minute, Southampton had hit the post and tangled the side netting when it was easier to score. We had suffered a massive blow when Sandro was forced off with a head injury following a long delay.
Rangers did improve after the break, but it was the home side who took the lead when the ball went through an exposed Rob Green. However, Charlie Austin’s outstanding equaliser provoked wild scenes among the travelling R’s fans. I was still celebrating when a scissors-kick at the other end put Southampton back in front.
When we were awarded a free kick in the 84th minute, we wondered whether Niko Kranjcar could do it again. As the ball dipped we were denied by the crossbar.
Mauricio Isla has been one of the players that have disappointed me so far. Were we too hasty offloading Danny Simpson and will Suk-Young and Michael Harriman get their chance?
Surely Junior Hoilett should start ahead of Matt Phillips and as I have mooted previously, in my opinion Nedum Onuoha must play.
In praise of Eduardo Vargas who never stopped running and I thought Karl Henry did well when he came on. Bobby Zamora was superb, holding the ball up and laying it off well, his presence is certainly now an inspiration.
A tap on the shoulder before kick-off and, there behind us were W12boy and Hillingdon Hoop from the Indy R’s site.
After parking up before the match, Jimmy and I took note of certain landmarks en route to the ground. This plan initially went out the window after the game because the local constabulary prevented us from turning left as we left the stadium!
My thanks to Jimmy for the lift.