Saints Hammer out point

Posted by Chris Rann

Gaston Ramirez celebrates giving Southampton the lead against West HamPA PhotosGaston Ramirez celebrates giving Southampton the lead against West Ham

Well, Southampton's 1-1 draw with West Ham at St. Mary's on Saturday afternoon is never going to win any awards for its beauty, but in terms of the season outcome it put both clubs another point closer to Premier League safety.

In what was a scrappy, niggly first half, referee Mike Dean was getting bad reviews from both sets of supporters as strange free-kick decisions were made against both teams. Saints looked the more composed on the ball, as you might expect, but West Ham have picked up points with their dogged style, and Saints let themselves be sucked into that style of contest. Sam Allardyce had clearly done his homework on the Mauricio Pochettino era at Southampton, with his West Ham side soaking up the pressure then trying to hit Saints with direct breaks.

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Coupled with the physical nature of Kevin Nolan, as usual, amongst all the nonsense in the middle of the park, the visitors did plenty to cause Saints concern. At times it looked like Southampton might let the tussle get the better of them, picking up a couple of needless bookings as both side went hell for leather in the tackle.

Saints did perhaps edge the play though, out-passing their opponents by almost two to one, dominating possession and it could have been a half-time lead for the hosts. Rickie Lambert met Gaston Ramirez's freekick and it looked a certain goal, but Hammers' keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen made a superb save on the line to deny the striker.

The home support was buoyed at the start of the second half, as Saints looked to impose themselves on the game, and it started to look like the home side might make their dominance on the ball pay. With Luke Shaw out ill, Danny Fox deputised at left-back and though he was up to the task defensively, it felt a little like Saints were missing a wheel in attack.

Saints did get their reward though, Ramirez meeting a long clearance from goalkeeper Artur Boruc (Yes, West Ham fans I get the irony!) and although his first shot was blocked, he made no mistake with the second.

At this point it felt like Saints would go on and claim the three points. With their tails up they started to pepper the West Ham goal, but couldn't find that all important second. Then Andy Carroll showed that he still has the ability to take a chance, hitting a free-kick under the Saints wall to level the score.

West Ham looked content with their point away from home, and why not, Allardyce making defensive-minded substitutions, while Saints continued to search for the victory. The introduction of Jay Rodriguez (left on the bench due to illness) made an instant change in tempo for Saints, and an immediate impact. Saints pushed and pushed but couldn't find the winner as the game again became scrappy.

After three wins on the bounce, a home draw was a little deflating, but five games unbeaten is still nothing to be sniffed at for Saints who sit in 11th. Both teams now on 38 points and will have good reason to be happy with their days work.

Keep the faith.

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