19/04/2014: Aston Vila 0-0 Saints
Referee: Lee Mason
Saints and Villa couldn't be split in what was a very uneventful game. Saints had the better of the play and created clearer openings. Villa were fairly cagey and quite limited as a team.
Saints made good use of the flanks early on. In the 4th minute Luke Shaw did really well to get away from his man before driving forward and crossing for Rickie Lambert, who headed straight at Guzan. Lambert then had another effort deflected wide from a Steven Davis pass. Villa threatened on the counter a couple of times, with Gabriel Agbonlahor flashing a dangerous cross along Artur Boruc's box. Jose Fonte then made a good tackle when the same player took a poor touch whilst running towards goal.
After a fairly bright first 15 minutes the game descended into a lacklustre end of season procession many feared it would. Saints were the better footballing side, but most of the action was barely noteworthy. On 32 Davis had acres of space to place his close range shot, but blasted straight at Guzan. Villa did improve just before half-time, bombarding Saints with a series of late crosses. Dejan Lovren nearly conceded an unfortunate own goal.
A slack clearance from Boruc led to an early chance for Karim El Ahmadi, who responded with a tame effort. On 55 Lallana miscued a clear shot at goal following another good counter from Shaw. Saints enjoyed a good share of possession, but couldn't quite find that killer ball. A couple of swift advances into the box fell apart at the last moment. Neither team really pushed that hard for a winner, but Saints did have a good penalty shout turned down late on. The referee failed to notice that Nathaniel Clyne's cross was handled by Ryan Bertrand.
An extremely tedious encounter. Saints once again struggled up front without Jay Rodriguez's movement. It was all far too static in the final third. There's a good chance we will still finish 8th even if we lose our remaining three games, but it would be nice if we could pull at least one more good performance out of the bag. Overall it's been a very good season, but it looks to be heading to a slightly anti-climactic finish.
Boruc: 6. Kicking mostly poor. Made a few saves, but nothing that was particularly difficult. Commanded the area fairly well
Clyne: 6. Pushed on down the flank to reasonably good effect
Fonte: 7. Timing very good. Not the toughest test he's faced this season by a long way, but did pretty much everything that was asked of him
Lovren: 6. A few minor uncomfortable moments, but overall a reasonable defensive display
Shaw: 6. Got caught out once or twice at the back, but Saints' most effective player going forward
Wanyama: 7. Swept up quite well, particularly in the first half. Lack of match practise was starting to show slightly just before he was withdrawn
Schneiderlin: 6. A bit indecisive in possession at times, but did create a couple of chances
Ward-Prowse: 6. Worked hard and bright early on. Didn't see much of the ball in the 2nd half before coming off
Davis: 6. Ambitious passes didn't really come off, but did provide some energy
Lallana: 5. Made a few good runs, but end product was missing
Lambert: 5. Saw quite a lot of the ball in the first half, but passing not really to the level you would expect
Gallagher: 5. Lack of experience really showed on this occasion. Never really got the better of his markers
Cork: Kept it simple
Reed: A few decent touches at the end of the game