09/03/2013: Norwich 0-0 Saints

Saints secured an important point with a 0-0 draw at Norwich. Mauricio Pochettino's side were on top for most of the afternoon, but nearly ended up with nothing, only for Norwich to miss their stoppage time penalty.

Pochettino made a few changes to his starting eleven, with Jos Hooiveld being drafted in at centre-back. Maya Yoshida played at right back, with Luke Shaw returning on the other side. Jay Rodriguez started ahead of Jason Puncheon.

Saints started the game well. Pochettino's men attempted to play it about on the ground, which wasn't always easy given the treacherous weather conditions. Defensively we were very well set up. Jack Cork and Morgan Schneiderlin dropped very deep, allowing the full-backs greater license to get forward. Most of Saints' attacks came down the left, with Shaw making a number of dangerous runs up the pitch. Rodriguez had the first chance, heading over in the 2nd minute from a Shaw cross. Yoshida had the next opportunity, following good work from Gaston Ramirez. Both sides were guilty of errors, with the poor surface creating problems for a number of players.

The first 15 minutes were fairly even, but Saints soon took control. On 16 minutes Ramirez's corner flashed across goal. Adam Lallana then had an effort tipped over. On 22 minutes Jose Fonte's deep cross evaded Lallana. Ramirez latched on to Lambert's brilliant through ball, before attempting to chip Canaries keeper Mark Bunn, who got enough on the ball to keep it out. Norwich only really threatened from set-pieces during the first half. Robert Snodgrass had the best opening, testing Artur Boruc with a stinging free-kick. The standard of officiating from the referee and his two assistants was poor throughout. The Canaries were given a dubious free-kick just outside the box on the right-hand side, but couldn't take advantage of the situation.

Saints looked fired up immediately after the re-start, and came agonisingly close to taking a 47th minute lead. Rodriguez brilliantly made space for himself, before firing a low cross along the six-yard box. Ramirez couldn't quite get his foot across in time. Seconds later the ball fell to Lallana, who blasted over with a clear sight at goal. The captain had enough time to steady himself a bit more, but should have done better regardless. Norwich did come into it a bit more during the second half, but Saints were still the better side. The hosts attempted to get crosses into the box as quickly as possible. Grant Holt fired a dangerous ball across goal on 55 minutes. Moments later Yoshida made a priceless interception, preventing a certain Norwich goal. Saints had further chances too. On 59 minutes Jay Rodriguez got away from his man, before having his shot saved. Lambert then blasted over with his weaker foot. When Snodgrass took the ball past Boruc in the 75 minute, most of the home fans were on their feet ready to celebrate, only for Yoshida to steal the ball away at the very last moment.

The game did fizzle out slightly towards the end, with both teams tiring. Lambert headed wide of the post from a Guly free-kick in the 79th minute. When Schneiderlin's tame effort was easily gathered by Bunn in the 88th minute it looked as if that was that. There would be plenty of stoppage time drama however. Norwich were given a controversial penalty when Holt tripped over his own feet. The centre-forward was being trailed by Shaw, but was hardly being impeded. Fortunately justice was done in the end. Boruc brilliantly saved Holt's spot-kick, seconds before the final whistle blew.

Right now it's difficult to assess whether that was a point gained or two lost. Saints played very well, and had the better of their opponents for most of the afternoon. Unfortunately we weren't clinical enough. On the other hand, you can't really turn your nose up at a point away from home. It could have been even worse had it not been for Boruc's save, or Yoshida's heroics. There were some encouraging signs. Defensively we looked a lot more solid than we have done for weeks. We created enough chances to win, but were let down by poor finishing. Teams below us have picked up results, but Saints still have a four point gap over the bottom three, and a superior goal difference. The odds are still very much in our favour. I've seen enough to suggest that this team has what it takes to start picking up a few wins soon.

Attendance: 26,783

Match Ratings:

Boruc: 8. Looked comfortable dealing with Norwich crosses. Brilliant penalty save

Yoshida: 8. Passing hit and miss, but the two perfectly timed goal-saving challenges were absolutely crucial

Fonte: 6. Occasionally made the wrong decision on the ball, but defensively sound

Hooiveld: 6. Looked fairly comfortable for most of the game

Shaw: 8. Made a number of excellent runs down the left. Tired slightly towards the end

Cork: 6. Surprisingly off-colour in the first half, passing disappointing. Did improve a bit after the interval

Schneiderlin: 7. Passing not always perfect, but timing and tackles fine

Rodriguez: 7. Very bright immediately after the break. Looked capable of making something happen

Ramirez: 7. A difficult one to assess. Not everything he tried came off, but involved in some of Saints' best attacking sequences.

Lallana: 6. Not a terrible all-round display, but really should have buried that second half chance

Lambert: 7. Link up play excellent. Only thing missing was a goal


Guly: 6. Kept things ticking in midfield with a decent range of passing

Ward-Prowse: Tactically sound

Puncheon: Not enough time to make an impact