SAINTS captain Adam Lallana confessed that Saints were overawed during their defeat to Liverpool.
Lallana was frustrated by the first-half performance as Nigel Adkins’ side struggled to gain any foothold in the match.
While the damage was limited to a solitary Daniel Agger goal, it was still too much to recover from – Saints appearing star struck on their first visit to Anfield in almost eight years with Liverpool fans Morgan Schneiderlin and Rickie Lambert racing to swap shirts with Kop legend Steven Gerrard after the final whistle.
“Maybe the occasion got to a few of us today in the first half,” admitted Lallana. “It took us a while to settle. “We weren’t our usual selves. But second half we were a lot better, and while it was 1-0 anything could happen.
“We wanted to stay in the game to the death. We made a couple of changes and Jay (Rodriguez) came on and was lively, but we just didn’t get that clear-cut chance that we wanted and, obviously, we’ve walked away with nothing.”
The Saints captain added: “We’re disappointed the way we went about our first-half performance – whether we showed them a bit too much respect or we just didn’t believe in our own ability as much as we should have done.
“We were hoping to get into halftime goalless, but Agger scored a great header, and it was probably nothing less than they deserved really.
“But second half was a lot more of an assured performance. We kind of sat off them a little bit and let them play out rather than trying to press them, and we had a couple of chances on the counter attack and we were in it to the last minute, which is what we wanted to do at half-time.
“On another day we might have nicked a goal.”
There may have been an understandable air of frustration at the team’s four-match unbeaten run coming to an end, and a sense among the players that they did not completely do themselves justice with their performance, but this was not a day where confidence would have taken a significant hit.
Saints certainly appear to be a more resolute side, mentally as well as on the pitch, than they were earlier in the season when they were shipping goals by the bucket load.
“We’re making strides forward, there’s no doubt about that,” said Lallana.
That could be important, as Saints enter what appears to be a critical pre-Christmas period.
Nigel Adkins’ men will host fellow strugglers Reading and Sunderland before December 25 – a date after which the fixture list again takes on a more daunting appearance.
A run of poor results now would be alarming.
“Christmas is going to be massive,” said Lallana. “We’ve got a huge game against Reading. It’s important we pick up points at home, especially against the teams around us, and we’re focusing on that now.
“We’ll put this game to bed, and it’s a huge game next weekend.”