Saints 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1

Daily Echo:

IT'S FAST becoming a season of extremes for Saints.

You have the extremes of the defensive injury list and all the problems that brings.

You have the extreme of not being able to stop the goals flying into your own net, and now having a much more solid defence.

And we also have the extreme of goals arriving from everywhere to goals coming from virtually nowhere.

In the first part of the season Saints were the great entertainers of not just the Championship but English professional football.

Their games were high scoring and very unpredictable - the only thing you could be sure about is that goals would rack up at both ends.

Saints probably should have won the game so a draw was disappointing. Its a struggle in the final third at the moment. Burley has to decide whether to make changes or keep the faith again.

Adam Leitch

Now they have got far more circumspect at the back, far tighter defensively.

That was needed, but they have lost a little of their cutting edge.

Just three goals scored in seven games is not good, especially when you bear in mind that constitutes not having scored at all in five out of seven.

The decision for George Burley is whether to stick with what he's got and believe it will come good again or make a few subtle changes.

The obvious place to make changes, if they are to be made, is the strikeforce itself.

Stern John has been the man who has scored two of those three goals; he looks in decent form and fairly sharp, even if he did miss a few chances last night.

Bradley Wright-Phillips looks lively enough but hasn't delivered a goal in his last seven appearances.

With Grzegorz Rasiak still hardly able to get a sniff of the action and with Marek Saganowski also a perennial sub, Burley may be tempted to shuffle his pack.

The advantage Wright-Phillips has is that because of his pace and the way he plays off of a bigger man, he is seen as a good partner for either John or Rasiak.

Burley will no doubt be concerned that John and Rasiak would not work as a pairing as they are too similar. But only time would tell for sure.

Wright-Phillips is also of use because he can occupy a wide position in the 4-5-1, or 4-3-3 as Burley would say, that has been employed of late.

It seemed it would only be a tactic on the road.

But Burley stuck with it for the first hour at St Mary's last night before reverting to a 4-4-2 which looks better at home.

Talking of the goalscoring is negative at this point in time, but there is most definitely a positive at the back.

There may be a lot of injuries, the defence may have a makeshift look to it, but it is starting to perform effectively. In fact so much so that some of the returning defenders may struggle to get straight back into the team.

Both the defensive strength and attacking struggles were on show against Wednesday last night.

It was a far cry from the 5-0 beating Saints received at Hillsborough only a few weeks back.

Saints will reflect that they probably should have won this game.

Though there were few chances for either side, and Kelvin Davis made the better saves, Saints did dominate possession and looked very good until the final third.

Davis was first called into action on 15 minutes when he superbly turned Burton O'Brien's low drive from distance round the post.

Saints had the better of the rest of the half, though, with John finishing only to see an offside flag raised in a marginal call, Adam Hammill curling just wide and Wright-Phillips' shot deflected just over.

Alan Bennett proved he belongs at centre half when he was presented with a gift of a chance just three yards from goal but totally miscued his shot which went not very far but off target.

Just before the break John tried an audacious volley from 40 yards that almost caught Lee Grant off his line.

After half-time the game was a lot more scrappy.

Wright-Phillips saw Grant do well to save at his near post on 49 minutes, John went close on a couple of occasions while Hammill could only hit the keeper with a firm shot from 20 yards.

Wednesday's only real chance of the half fell to Marcus Tudgay after Saints failed to clear a cross, but Davis was off his line quickly to make a brilliant save at his feet.

After the win at Leicester it was a shame Saints couldn't follow it up with another victory at home.

But you get the feeling that when their goalscoring touch returns, it could be in yet more extremes.

click2find

Get Adobe Flash player
About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree