05/11/2012: West Brom 2-0 Saints

Saints remain bottom of the Premier League, following another disappointing 2-0 defeat at West Brom. The visitors played reasonably well at times, but failed to trouble Baggies keeper Ben Foster too often.

Nigel Adkins started with a 4-4-2 formation, with Gaston Ramirez coming back in on the right-hand side of midfield. Paulo Gazzaniga replaced Artur Boruc in goal, while Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez started together up-front. Lambert provided a lot of the ancillary work, dropping deep throughout. Morgan Schneiderlin regularly dropped back into defence to support the back four.

Saints were just about on top in the first 15 minutes or so. The visitors looked sharp, and had a decent variety to their game, with a mixture of long and short passes. Ramirez had a free kick hit the wall, in what was the first major chance of the game. The Uruguayan then combined well with Rodriguez, setting up Lambert for a shot that was well saved by Foster. West Brom soon took control of the game after a reasonably promising start from Saints. On 19 minutes Zoltan Gera missed an absolute sitter. Two minutes later Shane Long fired over after Ramirez had given the ball away. Lambert missed a glorious chance to open the scoring for Saints when he headed straight at Foster from Ramirez's cross. West Brom then hit Saints on the counter, with Peter Odemwingie firing just wide. Odemwingie made amends for his miss on 36 minutes, handing West Brom a 1-0 lead following a powerful strike from the edge of the area. The Albion striker was given far too much time and space to get his shot away. West Brom were unfortunate not to add to their lead before half-time. The home side were deadly on the break throughout and more incisive in possession than their counterparts.

Adkins made a few alterations during the interval, switching Ramirez to the middle behind Lambert, with Rodriguez moving to the right of midfield. Saints started the second half well, and were nearly level only a couple of minutes in. Rodriguez's cross cannoned of Ramirez's face before the ball fell into the path of Lambert who hit the bar. Not long after that chance Nathaniel Clyne nearly picked out Ramirez with a through ball, only for Foster to get there first. On 57 minutes the away side were involved in a good flowing move, which resulted in Danny Fox having his cross cut out by Foster. A few minutes later West Brom gave themselves a decent cushion. Odemwingie headed Long's cross past Gazzaniga for his second of the night. The Baggies never looked like surrendering their lead from that point. Saints had plenty of possession, but failed to penetrate the West Brom defence. Yoshida headed wide from a Guly corner towards the end of the game in what was the final opportunity.

Another disappointing night for Adkins and his troops. Saints looked ok in spells, but lacked any real creativity and inventiveness going forward. With a defence as bad as ours, we were always going to get punished for not being clinical enough at the other end. We're not in a critical position yet, but there's already a bit of a gap developing between the bottom three and the rest of the league. If we don't pick up points in our next few games then we can start booking our ticket to the Championship next season. We've played 8 of the top 10 so far, so it should get easier. The gulf in class has been there for all to see so far this campaign. Saints need to be absolutely ruthless against the bottom half teams if we want to stay up.

Attendance: 25,635

Match Ratings:

Gazzaniga: 6. Pulled off some decent saves, but could have possibly done slightly better for the first goal. Looked reasonably assured, probably will be number one for the foreseeable future.

Clyne: 8. Barely put a foot wrong. Strong in the tackle and threatening going forward. Passing very good

Fonte: 6. Made a few mistakes. Positional sense could have been better

Yoshida: 6. Distribution reasonably decent, but defensively weak. Looked uneasy

Fox: 7. Much improved defensively, and some good crosses at the other end

Ramirez: 6. Brilliant on occasions, awful at other times. Probably not quite 100% fit yet, gave away possession too many times

Schneiderlin: 7. Covered more ground than anyone else, solid defensively

Davis: 6. Tidy on the ball

Lallana: 6. A few decent moments going forward, but well below his best for the most part. Should have closed down better for West Brom's opener. Failed to unlock the Baggies defence

Rodriguez: 6. Movement very good, decision making and end product poor

Lambert: 7. Looked sharper than he has done in recent weeks. All he needs now is a goal

Substitutes:

Guly: 5. Improved things slightly, a few decent passes

Mayuka: 5. Barely touched the ball

Shaw: Good to see him make his league debut. Put in a decent challenge towards the end of the game