04/01/2014: Saints 4-3 Burnley

Saints progressed to the FA Cup 4th round with an unconvincing display against Burnley. The home side looked rather lethargic for much of the match, and yet you always felt they would probably come away with a win. Burnley played very well, and Saints seemed to stroll to victory without as much urgency as you would expect.

Saints were very sloppy right from the get-go, with Burnley going on the attack during the first 10 minutes. The away side looked a lot sharper on the ball and put together some swift moves in the final third. Scott Arfield curled the ball just past the post within the opening minute. Saints struggled to get any real rhythm going, but still managed to open the scoring on 21 minutes. Steve Davis dinked the ball over to the right for Nathaniel Clyne. The young full-back let it bounce up before blasting into the roof of the net.

Mauricio Pochettino's men were far from their best for the remainder of the first-half, but did improve, establishing a degree of control over the tempo of the game. On 27 minutes Davis, Gaston Ramirez and Rickie Lambert were involved in a decent passage of play just outside the area. The move finished with Lambert firing into the top corner. Saints looked pretty comfortable going into the break with that two goal advantage. Lambert cleared the bar after being set-up by Ramirez inside the box. Clyne had another crack from distance, but got nowhere close on this occasion. Shaw had a low drive tipped wide by the keeper.

Just when it looked as if Saints had the game in the bag, Burnley dragged themselves back, taking advantage of some slack play from the home side. Sam Vokes planted a free header past Kelvin Davis on 51. Six minutes later the Clarets were level. Danny Ings got beyond Jos Hooiveld before slotting past Davis at the near post. Saints looked all over the place at this point, and Burnley came very close to adding a third. Davis did really well to save from Vokes.

The home side looked poor, but grabbed a goal out of nowhere on 66. James Ward-Prowse appeared to trip in a collision with an opponent while approaching the Burnley keeper in the box. The ball came back out to Jay Rodriguez, who completed a simple finish to score against his former club. The next 10 minutes were really end-to-end. Ings hit the post for Burnley, before Adam Lallana gave the home side a cushion on 73. The substitute brought the ball down in the centre of the park, took a few strides forward before finishing low from about 25 yards out. Saints played keep ball for the remaining quarter, but were given a bit of a scare on 87 minutes when Kevin Long poked the ball in from a corner. Burnley struggled to regain possession during the final few moments, so there was no real last minute panic.

It appeared Saints were taking this game very seriously with that strong-line up, but the performance suggested otherwise. Pochettino's men took a long while to get going, and then got complacent immediately after half-time. Burnley were very well drilled to be fair, and deserve credit for making it so difficult. Saints' Premier League quality just about told in the end, even though the visitors looked more up for it. The fact that we've made it to the next round is the most important thing. With Saints pretty much assured of a place in mid-table, there's very little reason why we shouldn't treat this competition as our number one priority.

Attendance: 15,077

Match Ratings:

Davis: 5. Made some cracking saves, including a very important one when the score was at 2-2. On the other hand, should have done better with the final two Burnley goals. Kicking a bit unnecessary wayward at times.

Clyne: 7. Didn't let much get past him and scored an absolute belter.

Yoshida: 5. Passing let him down, and not entirely convincing defensively either

Hooiveld: 5. Looked shaky all afternoon. Given the run-around by Ings on more than one occasion

Shaw: 6. Not his best defensive display, but some good forward bursts

Cork: 6. Tidy without being particularly dominant

Schneiderlin: 6. Not quite as assertive as you would have hoped, but did just about enough for it to be considered an acceptable performance

Ward-Prowse: 6. Struggled to get going early on, but lively during the latter part of the 2nd half, with some good set-piece delivery

Davis: 6. Vision generally pretty decent

Ramirez: 6. Blew hot and cold. Not everything he tried came off, but there were some really clever pieces of play scattered about in there

Lambert: 5. A great finish for the goal, but otherwise looked a bit out or sorts. Hopefully the injury which forced him off isn't too serious

Substitutes:

Rodriguez: 6. Very involved in everything Saints did going forward.

Lallana: 6. Did spark Saints into life during the final third of the game

Fonte: Not involved too much, but a definite upgrade on Hooiveld for sure