25/04/2015: Saints 2-2 Tottenham
Saints were left slightly frustrated after coming away with just a point against Tottenham. Ronald Koeman's side created more clear cut chances, worked harder and played a more attractive brand of football. The result leaves Saints 7th, a point behind Spurs and Liverpool.
Toby Alderweireld overcame the injury he sustained at Stoke and started in a similar role just in front of the defence. There was plenty of interchanging of positions between the defensive players during the first half, and the full-backs were given licence to bomb on.
Saints worked hard without the ball during the first 15 minutes. The team was well organised, but spent quite a bit of the early going chasing the ball, with Spurs looking slicker in possession. The game was very physical, but chances were few and far between at first. On 18 Bertrand whipped a dangerous looking ball across goal, but nobody was there to get on the end of it. Seven minutes later Hugo Lloris saved well from Morgan Schneiderlin, who hooked the ball towards goal from a corner.
Saints were slowly gaining more control of the game, building from deep. On 29 they were ahead. Sadio Mane burst through the Tottenham defence on the counter. He was challenged on the edge of the area. Steven Davis appeared to be taken down before Spurs inexplicably switched off. Graziano Pelle took advantage of a weak back-pass, slotting in after beating Ben Davies to the ball.
Saints had a couple of chances to extend their lead before half-time. Pelle headed into the ground from James Ward-Prowse's free-kick. Davis shot wide on 40 from Bertrand's cross on the break. Saints were fizzing it around nicely, but slacked off slightly towards the end of the half and were made to pay. Erik Lamela appeared to touch the ball in with his shoulder from Eric Dier's cross.
Saints were more efficient going forward in the second half. Davis dragged the ball wide on 50. A few minutes later the same player missed a guilt-edged chance, firing just over the bar following a slick team move. Lloris then did very well to tip Betrand's deflected cross over. Bertrand's next effort was more deliberate. The full-back curled just over on the hour with his right foot.
With the pressure building Saints were finally ahead on 65. Mane was involved once again, making a good run before playing the ball to substitute Shane Long on the right. Long's cross was perfectly weighted for Pelle, who jumped high to head in past Lloris.
Saints appeared to be in control, but Spurs once again hit back. It took them just five minutes to level, somewhat against the run of play. Nacer Chadli got in behind the Saints back line before slotting low into the far post.
The game fizzled out slightly towards the end. Both teams were fighting hard without really creating chances. Spurs looked semi threatening on the break, and Saints had a few opportunities from set pieces. Injuries to Ben Davies and Schneiderlin meant over 7 minutes of injury time. Alderweireld had a header saved from a corner. Then with seconds to spare Jose Fonte came agonisingly close to nodding in. It wasn't to be, however. The game ended all-square.
A really good game of football. The action was entertaining enough on its own, but the atmosphere made it feel even better. It was the loudest St Mary's has been all season. The fans and the players were well up for it. It's just a shame the team couldn't quite deliver the three points. A win really would have left us in a great position, but the performance was encouragement enough, and it's still very much all to play for. Saints' improvement going forward was epitomised by Pelle, who was an outstanding presence up front. The Italian looks to be rediscovering that early season form at just the right time.
K Davis: 5. Could have probably done better for both of the Tottenham goals. Didn't have many other saves to make
Clyne: 7. A fairly solid outing
Fonte: 8. Always well positioned. Made plenty of brave tackles
Yoshida: 7. If you were being really picky you could perhaps portion blame to him for the second Spurs goal, but otherwise he did well. Played himself out of some testing situations and calm under pressure
Bertrand: 8. A good outlet for Saints going forward. Plenty of good bursts down the left flank and some decent delivery
Alderweireld: 7. Did fairly well considering he probably wasn't quite 100%
Schneiderlin: 7. Passing pretty good. Did all the ugly work in midfield well too
S Davis: 6. Below par in the first-half, but much better after the break. Got into plenty of good positions. Just let down by his finishing
Ward-Prowse: 7. Made some explosive runs down the right and provided plenty of energy
Mane: 7. Worked very hard. Created plenty of openings with his incessant chasing
Pelle: 8. Two goals and an all-round very good performance. Held the ball up well
Long: 7. Pressed well and a nice cross for the second
Elia: Some decent set piece delivery, but nothing from open play
Reed: Didn't really do anything of note
Saints - Pelle (29, 65)
Tottenham - Lamela (43) Chadli (71)
Attendance - 31,622 (3,156 Tottenham fans)
Referee - Jonathan Moss
Saints: K Davis, Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Bertrand, Alderweireld, Schneiderlin (Reed 89), Ward-Prowse (Long 62), S Davis (Elia 81), Mane, Pelle
Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Gardos, Targett, Tadic
Tottenham: Lloris, Dier, Fazio, Vertonghen, Davies (Chiriches 75), Mason, Bentaleb (Soldado 87), Eriksen, Lamela, Chadli (Dembele 83), Kane
Subs not used: Vorm, Yedlin, Stambouli, Townsend