24/09/2011: Burnley 1-1 Saints

Saints retained their place at the top of the Championship after coming from behind to earn a 1-1 draw at Burnley. The first half was extremely scrappy, with both teams struggling to get any real rhythm going. Eddie Howe had clearly done his homework and didn't allow us much time and space on the ball. Saints tried to play their passing game, but Burnley's pressing made it difficult. The Clarets were the better side in the early stages, and had the first big chance of the contest when Charlie Austin scuffed a shot wide from inside the area. Moments later Kelvin Davis's short pass was intercepted by Austin, who had another effort blocked by Jose Fonte. The visitors struggled in the final third of the pitch, as Burnley crowded out Southampton's most creative threats. A long range strike from Jack Cork was the closest we came to a goal in the opening period.

Nigel Adkins brought on Richard Chaplow for Guly Do Prado in the second half, switching to a diamond midfield, which made for a much more open contest. Chaplow nearly made an instant impact, but he failed to get on the end of a David Connolly cross. Burnley opened the scoring on 53 minutes when Brian Easton crossed for Charlie Austin, who finished past Davis from close range, for his fourth goal in as many games against Southampton. Austin had previously netted on three separate occasions against Saints for Swindon in 2010. Minutes later the visitors were agonisingly close to levelling, when Rickie Lambert headed Frazer Richardson's cross on to the bar. Adam Lallana also missed a great chance, when his close range header went narrowly wide. The pressure finally paid off on 80 minutes when Morgan Schneiderlin raced into the box to put away Danny Fox's cross. Both sides went all out for the win in the closing stages. Saints had a golden opportunity in stoppage time, when Lallana went through one on one with Burnley keeper Lee Grant, but his effort was too tame to cause any real damage. Lallana was having his shirt pulled before he got his shot away, and could have won a penalty if he'd gone down.

Not the best of displays from Nigel Adkins's men, but a draw was probably a fair result overall. Burnley were on top for longer, but Saints had more clear cut chances, and nearly nicked all three points towards the end. It could well be a sign of things to come. Burnley were well organised, getting men behind the ball and hitting us on the counter attack. It's an approach other sides will no doubt adopt in the future, meaning we are going to have to work harder to break teams down. In previous matches the opposition has given us far too much space, but more clubs will now take the Burnley approach, given that it clearly worked today. On the plus side, a point away from home is never terrible, and we still managed to put together some good attacking moves towards the end of the match. Jos Hooiveld is starting to look like a real talent at the back, and should form a great partnership with Jose Fonte.

Attendance: 14,170 (1,155 Saints fans)

Match Ratings:

Davis: 6. Distribution not great

Richardson: 7. Excellent going forward, crosses caused plenty of problems.

Fonte: 6. Looked surprisingly shaky.

Hooiveld: 7. Very assured at the back. Equally strong in the air and on the ground

Fox: 6. Still not entirely convincing defensively. Put in a few good crosses, and was a threat from dead ball situations. Booed throughout by the home fans.

Guly: 5. Not his day. First touch and passing poor.

Hammond: 6. Not as influential as previous weeks. Wasn't allowed much time on the ball

Cork: 7. Comfortable on the ball as always

Lallana: 6. Burnley kept him quiet for the first hour or so. Got better as the game went on, but missed a golden chance to score

Lambert: 7. Good link up play

Connolly: 7. Looked the most likely to make something happen going forward.

Substitutes:

Chaplow: 6. Added a bit more bite in midfield, closing down well.

Schneiderlin: 7 Helped Saints retain possession better.