10/12/2011: Saints 2-2 Blackpool

Saints grabbed a stoppage time equaliser to maintain their unbeaten home record, which now stretches back one whole year. It looked as though it just wasn't going to be our day, until Rickie Lambert popped up yet again to rescue a point. Nigel Adkins's men had the initiative in the first half hour or so, dominating possession. Blackpool, playing in a 4-3-3 formation, offered little going forward and challenged the hosts to break them down. A good bit of play between Lambert, Guly and Adam Lallana led to an opening for Morgan Schneiderlin, but the Frenchman scooped his shot over. On 24 minutes Saints were involved in a nice little interchange, which led to another chance, as Guly headed Lambert's cross over the bar. Dean Hammond then saw his effort fly over. The pressure finally paid off on 30 minutes when Lambert's massively deflected shot flew in past keeper Matt Gilks. Lallana had disposed Pool defender Neal Eardley, before feeding Jack Cork, who subsequently played the ball into goal scorer Lambert. Saints were well on top at that point, and had a great chance to double their advantage when Lambert went through one on one with the keeper, but this time Gilks got the better of the Championship's top scorer, brilliantly saving from close range. Blackpool came into it a lot more as the half drew to a close, having previously only threatened from long range. They grabbed an equaliser on 36 minutes when Chris Basham headed in Callum McManaman’s cross. The whole crowd fell silent for about 10 seconds, with fans and players alike convinced at least one player had been offside. The goal was given however, and the complexion of the game was completely altered.

Saints got off to the worst possible start in the second half, going behind on 49 minutes to a McManaman goal. The impressive youngster went on a mazy run, before hitting a weak effort straight into the path of Bartosz Bialkowski. The ball somehow squirmed under the keeper's body and into the back of the net. It was an absolutely awful mistake, but it had been coming. The Polish stopper had looked shaky throughout the first half, and his decision making was poor to say the least. The visitors enjoyed a greater share of possession from that point on, and did well to frustrate a Southampton side that huffed and puffed in search of an equaliser. Hammond went agonisingly close when his shot curled just wide of the post. Barry Ferguson and Lambert were booked following an off the ball incident, with the Saints striker trying to get the ball back quickly for a throw in. Guly had another header go narrowly over the bar, while Lallana and Hooivled also had chances. Blackpool were always a threat on the break however, and our old nemesis Lua Lua looked useful after coming on. It looked like it wasn’t going to be our day when we had two penalty shouts turned down just before stoppage time commenced. In truth the referee had been poor all game, making a number of bizarre decisions that effected both teams. The pressure did finally pay off on 93 minutes however. Brazilian Guly worked the ball into the box, before feeding Lallana, who carefully evaded the challenge of a number of Blackpool defenders in a crowded penalty area. The ball then found its way to Frazer Richardson, who crossed to the far post for Rickie Lambert to head in from close range. Saints could have won it seconds later with an incisive break away, but Steve De Ridder selfishly chose to go it alone, when a square ball across goal would have given us a better chance.

An action packed game at St Marys today. I don't normally like to single individuals out for criticism, but there's no getting away from the fact that Bialkowski was poor today. His errors cost us big time, and it's my belief we would have probably won the game comfortably had Kelvin Davis been between the sticks today. If he was nervous today, just think what he'll be like next week if he starts at Fratton. We’ve seen more experienced players crumble under pressure, so it's vital Kelvin gets fit before the 18th. I thought we played some good stuff at times today, but the luck we had earlier in the season doesn't seem to be with us at the moment. On the plus side, we are now undefeated at home in league competition for one year, an achievement we should be extremely proud of.

Attendance: 22,776 (532 Blackpool fans)

Match Ratings:

Bialkowski: 3. Had an absolute nightmare. Looked nervous from kick-off, handling and kicking was poor and made a huge blunder for Blackpool's second.

Richardson: 7. A threat going forward as always. Provided the cross for the equaliser

Fonte: 7. One misskick led to a Blackpool chance at the end of the first half, but other than that a very good display.

Hooiveld: 7. Very comfortable under pressure against Blackpool players who were quick to close down

Fox: 6. Decent going forward with some good link up play with Lallana, but passing was poor.

Schneiderlin: 6. Slightly below his usual high standard. Gave the ball away a lot more than usual.

Cork: 7. Sprayed the ball about well in midfield.

Hammond: 7. Great box to box display, strong both defensively and going forward. Very close to scoring.

Lallana: 7. Didn't see as much of the ball as he would have liked, but ended the game strongly, and was involved in both goals.

Lambert: 8. Two more goals and another great all round display

Guly: 8. Close control was excellent. Created a number of good opportunities with his skill, and rarely gave the ball away.

Substitutes:

Harding: 6. Good delivery from set pieces.

De Ridder: 6. Some good running, but should have passed the ball rather than shoot at the end when Saints broke away 2 vs. 2.