Saints rue missed chances. Again.

Posted by Chris Rann

There was some concern going into Saturday's 2-2 draw at Sunderland that the Saints players may suffer from some sort of emotional hangover after Nicola Cortese's sudden departure.

- Report: Sunderland 2-2 Southampton

If you look at the scoreline alone, you might be forgiven for thinking that that was the case, but yet again this was an example of Saints not turning dominance into points.

For the first 45 minutes Saints were in complete control and probably haven't had an easier half of football all season. Despite scoring twice though, there was a host of missed chances, and if we've learnt one thing about Saints this season it's that they will be punished if they don't finish teams off.

No sooner than Saints were two goals to the good, Sunderland converted their only clear chance of the opening period and Saints went in with a lead of 2-1 when it should have been by a much wider gap.

This was a game that looked like it was between two sides leagues apart, but a lack of clinical finishing has been an issue for Saints this season and when Adam Johnson fired home the equaliser after a much improved Sunderland showing in the second period, the sinking feeling was all too familiar.

Although Saints withstood any further pressure from the hosts, the worse was to come as two Saints players were injured and stretchered off in the space of thirty seconds. The first was Gaston Ramirez, the victim of a terribly reckless challenge from Wes Brown. The fact that Brown nicked the ball before smashing into Ramirez's ankle was enough for the ref to let him off, and in the subsequent break from Sunderland, Dejan Lovren was injured stretching to make a tackle. It was horrible passage of play to watch for the Saints fans, and yet again it was the familiar feeling of a key refereeing mistake going against the club.

As far as the rules are concerned, there is no mention of touching the ball. Brown went in on Ramirez, off the ground, from behind and with his studs up, a clear case of 'Dangerous play' and a straight red card offence.

Poor tackling and officiating aside though, Saints have no excuse for not winning a game they should have wrapped up in the first half. Thankfully, Dani Osvaldo returns from suspension, and there will be more competition for places up front.

Goals win games, and every time Saints waste a clear-cut chance they are giving their opponent the chance to reply.

Keep the faith.

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