10/11/2012: Saints 1-1 Swansea

Saints put in a decent performance against Swansea, but came away with just a point, with a single moment of madness gifting the visitors a scarcely deserved equaliser. The result still leaves Nigel Adkins with a lot to do. Saints move up one place to 19th, but are still four points from safety.

Adkins made a few changes to the starting eleven. Jack Cork made a welcome return from injury, replacing Steven Davis in midfield. Luke Shaw made his first league start at the expense of Danny Fox. Jason Puncheon was preferred to Jay Rodriguez. Saints lined up with Cork and Morgan Schneiderlin sitting in midfield. Puncheon and Adam Lallana played out wide, with Gaston Ramirez starting just off Rickie Lambert.

Saints were set up very well from a defensive point-of view. Cork and Schneiderlin protected the back-four brilliantly, dropping just in front of the back four whenever Swansea had the ball. Lallana and Puncheon also tracked back to help out the full-backs. Saints looked to hit Swansea on the counter early on. Lallana had 14th minute effort comfortably saved by Gerhard Tremmel. Ramirez then curled just past the post a few moments later. Saints won the possession battle, and limited Swansea to only a couple of half-chances. Sung-Yong Ki tested Paulo Gazzaniga with a stinging shot, following a corner. The hosts ended the half very much on top, with further chances for Ramirez and Lallana.

Swansea improved slightly after the break, pressing the Saints back-four in an effort to put the Premier League's worst defence under-pressure. The home side were still in control for the most-part however. Saints got the ball in the opposition box on a number of occasions, but often failed to pull the trigger. Swansea crowded out the penalty area, preventing Saints from playing their way through. Adkins' men often had more joy going long. That was how the opening goal came about. Maya Yoshida played a perfectly angled ball onto the head of Lambert, who nodded on to Schneiderlin. The Frenchman chested the ball down, before heading past the onrushing Tremmel. The visitors had barely threatened up to this point. It was a suicidal piece of defending that let the Swans back into the game. Saints had grown far too casual after the goal. Gazzaniga made a weak clearance to Yoshida, who didn't react quickly enough before the onrushing Nathan Dyer. The Swansea substitute intercepted the ball, before firing in off the post to make it 1-1. While neither Gazzaniga nor Yoshida were completely blameless, the goalkeeper was more culpable. Saints pushed hard for a winner in the closing stages, but couldn't quite find that all important goal. The hosts had a number of set-pieces, but the delivery was hit-and-miss. Lambert came agonisngly close to restoring the lead, with a header that went just past the post. Lallana might have had a claim for a penalty, but was instead booked for diving. It was a fine effort from all involved, but in the end, Saints had to settle for a point instead of three.

Not quite the result we wanted, but plenty of positives. Jack Cork made a massive difference and should give us a big boost in our relegation battle. Defensively we were a lot better, despite the error for the goal. As well as we played, we can't pat ourselves on the back too much. It was still a fairly disappointing result. Saints can't afford too many more let-ups like this at home. We need to start picking up wins as soon as possible. The next few weeks will be crucial.

Attendance: 30,501

Match Ratings:

Gazzaniga: 6. One very good save in the first half, followed by a bad mistake for the Dyer goal

Clyne: 7. Linked up well with Puncheon, making a number of strong marauding runs down the right

Fonte: 7. Didn't do much wrong. Strong at the back and a threat at attacking set-pieces

Yoshida: 7. Slightly at fault for the Swansea goal, but otherwise very good defensively. Top class pass for the Saints goal too

Shaw: 6. Solid home debut. Made a number of well-timed challenges. Showed his naivety at times and was caught out of position on occasions. Should improve tactically with more experience

Schneiderlin: 7. Passing slightly below his best at times, but defensively very good. Took his goal well too

Cork: 8. A great return. Composed on the ball, protected the back four, but also provided a threat going forward

Puncheon: 7. Didn't create too many chances, but never stopped running. Solid link-up play

Lallana: 7. Worked brilliantly up and down the line, tracking back and causing trouble in the opposition box

Ramirez: 6. Very bright early on, created a few openings, using his strength to shield the ball from opponents. Faded a bit towards the end, giving the ball away a few too many times. Still not 100% fit.

Lambert: 7. Very strong in the air, great knock-down for the goal

Substitutes:

Fox: 6. Added a lot more energy and attacking threat down the left-hand side