20/04/2013: Swansea 0-0 Saints

Saints stretched their unbeaten run to six matches with a 0-0 draw at Swansea. The game had a bit of an end of season feel to it, with both sides playing slightly below potential. Saints looked good in spells, but Swansea were probably the better side overall.

The game experienced a fast paced and physical start. Swansea were a lot quicker in possession early on, and were on top during the first 15 minutes or so. Saints' pressing was good, but Mauricio Pochettino's men were a bit too slow on the ball. The Swans had the first major opening on 7 minutes, with Angel Rangel firing wide. Saints stepped up the pace in the 13th minute, with an incisive piece of one-touch football, which led to a long range Jack Cork effort, which was comfortably saved by Michel Vorm. Swansea attempted to hit Saints on the flanks, particularly down the right, where Nathan Dyer floated a number of balls in from deep. Fortunately Artur Boruc commanded his box superbly, and dealt with the aerial threat.

Saints did well to see off the early Swansea threat, and soon came into the contest a bit more. Jay Rodriguez scooped the ball over the bar on 20 minutes. A marauding run by Nathaniel Clyne eventually led to another Rodriguez chance, which was comfortably saved by Vorm. The game then entered a bit of a lull until the 39th minute. Rickie Lambert's free kick looked to be heading towards the top corner, before Vorm got his fingertips to the ball. From the resulting corner Adam Lallana had a goal disallowed for a foul on the keeper. Vorm dropped Rodriguez's cross under pressure from Lallana, who then tucked the ball away. The decision seemed slightly harsh on first viewing, but with Lallana's arms in the air you could understand why he didn't give it. Saints ended the half strongly and had a penalty appeal turned down when Lambert appeared to be held back by Ashley Williams.

Swansea came steaming out of the blocks in the second half. Substitute Wayne Routledge made an immediate impact for the hosts, crossing for Michu to head wide on 47 minutes. Saints slowed the tempo back down a notch, and as a result failed to create many more openings. On 64 minutes a mix up in the Saints defence led to Lallana inadvertently playing in his former teammate Dyer, who had his shot cleared off the line by Maya Yoshida. Swansea really started to turn the screw during the last 20 minutes, with Saints struggling to maintain possession. On 78 minutes Jonathan De Guzman was played through on the right, with Boruc getting down well to make the save. Swansea had control of the ball, but couldn't quite find that killer pass. Rodriguez occasionally managed to break free, but didn't quite have enough in him to threaten on the counter. It was substitute Emmanuel Mayuka who had the visitors' best second half chance. The Zambian tested Vorm with a low drive just minutes after coming on.

A satisfying point in the end, the first in Wales since 1974. As Jack Cork said in his post-match interview, Saints would have probably crumbled under the pressure earlier in the season, so it was a testament to how far we have progressed in recent months that we were able to get something out of the game. Going forward we weren't as inventive as we could have been, but defensively we were excellent as a collective unit. Saints usually have something to play for right up until the final kick of the season, but this time we look to be in for a relaxing finish. Mid-table mediocrity never felt so good.

Attendance: 20,561

Match Ratings:

Boruc: 7. Kicking occasionally let him down slightly, but strong on crosses and in one-on-one situations

Clyne: 6. A few minor errors, but reliable enough. Made a couple of good runs down the flank

Yoshida: 7. Passing occasionally slightly lacklustre, but reading of the game and timing perfectly fine

Hooiveld: 7. Another solid outing. Decent range of passing

Fox: 7. Caught out of position towards the end when suffering from cramp, but generally pretty good. Made some important challenges and interceptions

Cork: 7. Covered plenty of ground. Strong both defensively and on the ball

Schneiderlin: 7. Positioning pretty much spot on

Davis: 6. Fairly tidy outing

Lallana: 6. Unlucky backpass could have proved costly, but otherwise a decent shift

Rodriguez: 7. Created a few chances for himself. Probably Saints' most dangerous attacking player

Lambert: 6. Held the ball up well, but not involved in too many goal-scoring opportunities from open-play

Substitutes:

Ramirez: 5. With Swansea enjoying so much possession the Uruguayan struggled to assert himself on the game.

Puncheon: Nothing much to say. Pretty much like for like replacement for Lallana

Mayuka: First appearance for a long time. Did well to get his effort on goal at the end