Scoreline is un-four-two-nate for Saints

Posted by Chris Rann

Matthew Lewis/Getty ImagesGaston Ramirez and Southampton showed plenty of fight, but in the end came away with nothing at Newcastle.

If you were listening to the results on the radio, Saints' 2-4 defeat at St. James' Park may have sounded like a bad day at the office, but actually it is extremely flattering on their hosts.

Saints weren't that bad at all; they weren't at their best, far from it, but they weren't poor either. This was the sloppiest in terms of ball retention that they have been in a while, but by no means were Saints easily beaten.

- Newcastle 4-2 Southampton
- Pochettino sure of Southampton survival

Newcastle look much the better an outfit than they did when they were beaten at St. Mary's in November. Their new signings have clearly improved them, and they certainly didn't look like a team that is in a relegation battle, and neither did Saints. It was a great game, and one that looked like it was being played out by two teams positioned higher than their current standings.

To celebrate the impact of their French imports, the hosts labelled it 'French Day'. But if they were hoping for one of their Gallic stars to open the scoring, they must have seen the irony in Saints' 'monstre sacré' and only Frenchman, Morgan Schneiderlin, turning in the box to send home Rickie Lambert's knockdown to give Saints a third minute lead. And it was all Saints in the opening exchanges. They looked far more comfortable on the ball than their opponents and didn't let the home side settle at all. Sadly, this wasn't to last.

Newcastle did get back into the game, the lively Moussa Sissoko and Cheik Tiote battling for the cause and it was Sissoko who levelled the tie in the 32nd minute, tapping in after good work from Yoan Gouffran, and suddenly it was the hosts who looked in control. They took the lead 10 minutes later, with an absolutely breathtaking strike from Papiss Cisse. It shouldn't have counted; Cisse was offside when the ball was played long, but it will be a goal-of-the-season contender.

Saints had let another lead slip and now it was to be a test of how they would try and get back into the game. For the early part of the second half, it looked like they were going to pass that test. Almost as quickly as they had opened the scoring in the first period, they were at it again in the second. Lambert stroking home Adam Lallana's perfect cross to level the score and make 100 Southampton goals for the prolific frontman. Joining the likes of Mick Channon, Terry Paine, Matthew Le Tissier and Ron Davies, Lambert is now fully confirmed as a Saints legend, and it looked like it would be fitting that it would be the goal that turned the game on its head.

Saints looked comfortable again, and any watching gamblers would have had them down as the most likely to go on and claim all three points.

Enter Danny Fox.

Mauricio Pochettino took Luke Shaw off (just back from injury) and Fox replaced him at left back. Sadly for Saints and Fox, this decision was to seal their fate.

In the 67th minute Fox left his arm out as Yohan Cabaye tried to cross the ball and referee Chris Foy pointed to the spot. Many Saints fans were disappointed with Foy's performance, and particularly the penalty decision, but for me he had little choice but to give it. Cabaye stepped up and made it 3-2 to the home side, and effectively the tie was over.

There was still time for some comedy, and poor old Fox was at the centre of it again; Newcastle played the ball across goal, Fox reacted and attempted to clear it with the outside of his left foot, and straight across his own goal (my middle school PE teacher wouldn't have accepted that), the ball smashed straight into the chest of Jos Hooiveld for his third own goal of the season (equalling an all-time Premier League record). Sacre bleu!

Plenty of positives for Saints to take from this game, but it was certainly a case of at least one point lost, if not three. It looked like Shaw was replaced as a precaution, but it was certainly a game changer. You live and learn.

Keep the faith.

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