Southampton 2 Fulham 2: Lessons as Saints salvage a point at St Mary’s
Southampton 2 Fulham 2: What did we learn as Nigel Adkins' men salvage a draw against the Cottagers at St Mary's?
Fulham get their first draw of the season
It was an interesting Sunday afternoon encounter between two sides with highly contrasting performances – Southampton, before the match, were languishing in the relegation zone and Fulham were sitting in ninth place, six points ahead of the Saints. Fulham enjoyed the lion’s share of possession for the majority of the 90 minutes but they lacked any real conviction, urgency or invention particularly in the first half. After the restart, however, Fulham looked a revitalised side. Martin Jol’s team talk clearly had the desired effect as they began to reduce the amount of their errors they were making and they started to control the ball with a bit more authority. The visitors restored parity when Jos Hooiveld scored an unfortunate own goal in the 68th minute and then substitute Kieran Richardson grabbed Fulham’s second at St Mary’s. It looked as though they would go on to win it as they were clearly controlling the match, however, Jose Fonte had other ideas and in the 90th minute he scored another to level the scores. Clearly somebody forgot to tell him that it was Mark Schwarzer’s birthday!
Southampton throw away another lead
Although the first half was not the most exciting to watch, the home fans will at least have been in high spirits when the referee Mark Clattenberg blew the half-time whistle with their team leading by 1-0 thanks to Fonte’s early goal. His beautifully directed a glancing header past Schwarzer in the fourth minute which sent the Saints fans wild and gave them great hope that they could grab all three points in Sunday’s match. However, much like last week against the Toffees, they carelessly discarded their lead and let the opposition take control. Many will look at the manager’s decision to subtitute Ricky Lambert – one of their key strikers and pivotal figures – after only an hour as the turning point of the game. After that, Fulham took the initiative and began to bombard the Southampton goal with numerous chances – many of which were spurned carelessly. The Saints did get a point from the match but they will need to learn from their mistakes for a challenging fixture against West Ham United after the international break.
Hooiveld’s terrible luck continues
Over the course of the last four matches, Jos Hoiiveld has conceded two penalties and scored two own goals. In short, he had enjoyed little luck. One of those own goals came in Sunday’s match against the Cottagers. In the 70th minute, the ball broke loose to John Arne Riise who brought it close to the crowded Southampton 18-yard box before unleashing a dangerous, low-drilled shot which deflected off the unfortunate Hooiveld, past Paolo Gazzaniga and into the net. All this could have been avoided if not for Frazer Richardson’s injury early on in the first half as it was Hooiveld who replaced him. Then, in the 88th minute, Fulham’s Richardson netted another – albeit there was a slight deflection off Hooiveld before nestling itself in the back of the net. Mercifully, the goal was not chalked down as another own goal for the Dutchman and his blushes were spared slightly by a terrifically brave fightback from Nigel Adkins’ men in the last seven minutes.