01/11/2014: Hull 0-1 Saints
Saints secured another three points with a dogged display at Hull. Ronald Koeman's men were well below their best in the first half, but did improve in the second and were just about worthy of the win.
Hull handed Saints the initiative from kick-off, sitting deep with a back five. They looked like they might be tough to break down until the away side were presented with an unlikely opening on 3 minutes. Tigers keeper Eldin Jakupovic was put under pressure by Graziano Pelle, clearing the ball straight to Victor Wanyama from the edge of the box. The Kenyan saw his opportunity, shooting into the unguarded net from 40 yards out.
Hull responded well, with some powerful runs through the middle. Saints looked uneasy at the back as Hatem Ben Arfa notched the home side's first effort. Several last ditch challenges were needed at the back, with Koeman's men leaving gaps and committing basic errors. Saints managed to take the sting out of the game slightly midway through the first half, slowing the tempo with some patient passing. Hull were still forcing errors though, with the visitors struggling to maintain any fluency. Shane Long was put through on goal later in the half, but saw his shot saved by the legs of the keeper. Hull won the midfield battle in the first half, but a lack of ideas in the final third meant they didn't really trouble Fraser Forster.
Saints started to get to grips with the game in the second half. The away side saw more of the ball, but took a while to create goal scoring opportunities. Saints were wasteful from set plays. Hull stepped up the intensity during the last 20 minutes, but the visitors still threatened on the counter. Steven Davis tested the keeper from close range. Sadio Mane touched the ball over the bar from Dusan Tadic's cross when it looked easier to score. Jack Cork played a through ball to Mane with five to play, but the keeper got there just in time. Pelle shot into the side netting from Mane's low cross just prior to stoppage time. Saints saw out a nervy 4 minutes with Davis shooting over before the referee blew for full time.
Not a vintage performance by any means, but another important result. Saints weren't as fluid as they have been previously, particularly during the first half. Koeman's men managed the game well in the second however, seeing out the result fairly comfortably. Saints have won plenty of admirers for their sparkling attacking play in recent weeks, but it was at the other end they impressed on this occasion. There were a few individual errors committed in the first half, but the team was so well organised that all of those mistakes were dealt with before Hull got within shooting distance. The visitors were near faultless from a tactical perspective. You'd like to think Saints will put in a better showing next time out against Leicester, but it's comforting to know we can still pick up points even when we're not at our best.
Forster: 6. Distribution could have been better in the first half. Was barely tested
Clyne: 7. Not at his best in the first half. Left slightly exposed at times, but coped fairly well on the whole, with some good tackles. Excellent in the second half
Fonte: 8. Very strong in the air. Dealt with everything that was thrown at him
Alderweireld: 7. A few classy moments on the ball and some good defensive work
Bertrand: 7. Made a few vital last ditch tackles when Saints were under the cosh in the first half
Schneiderlin: 7. A bit sloppy on the ball at times in the first half. Back to his best after the break. Always in the right place at the right time to sweep up at the back
Wanyama: 8. Made his presence felt in the middle. A strong display
Davis: 7. Pretty steady all afternoon, but particularly useful on the counter when Saints were pushing for a second
Tadic: 6. Kept very quiet in the first half. Brighter in the second, but still not anywhere near as devastating as some of his previous outings
Long: 6. Made some good runs, but didn't always make the right decisions in front of goal
Pelle: 6. A few good flick ons and some reasonable hold up play
Mane: 6. Missed a sitter, but still looked lively
Cork: Strong at both ends of the pitch
Saints - Wanyama (3)
Attendance: 22,828 (1,479 Saints fans)
Referee: Lee Mason
Hull: Jakupovic, Chester, McShane (Aluko 64), Davies, Elmohamady, Livermore, Diame, Huddlestone, Brady (Quinn 81), Ben Arfa (Robertson 72), Hernandez
Subs not used: Watson, Rosenior, Meyler, Maguire
Saints: Forster, Clyne, Fonte, Alderweireld, Bertrand, Schneiderlin, Wanyama, S Davis, Tadic (Cork 81), Long (Mane 62), Pelle
Subs not used: K Davis, Gardos, Yoshida, Reed, Mayuka