When news happens, text SDE and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
ASTON VILLA 1 - SAINTS 0
GORDON Strachan may have committed his immediate future to Saints but he has some very serious problems to solve - most critically in midfield.
It's now four games without a goal and therefore four games without a win, and on the evidence of this display it's hard to see how Saints are going to score.
The Saints boss was right when he said the first 45 minutes was probably the worst he'd seen his team play.
He was also correct when he said that most of the midfielders he's tried have not done enough to convince him they deserve a place in the team.
In the first half the Saints midfield was dreadful.
Rory Delap and Anders Svensson's ball retention was well below what should be expected.
Those two were withdrawn at half-time, while Neil McCann lasted to the 70th minute despite not being a lot better.
David Prutton was the one starter that stood out above the rest - and he didn't set the world alight.
At least he was able to pass the ball to members of his own team on a regular basis.
How Saints miss Matt Oakley. They miss him terribly.
They miss his ability to pick the ball up out of defence and find his teammates with simple five or ten yard passes. To relieve the pressure on the defence by making sure his team retain possession.
It's academic perhaps to say all that bearing in mind he will be out for the season.
But Strachan said a couple of weeks ago it won't say much for the other midfielders if they can't do his job. Well, it doesn't say much for the other midfielders right now.
After experimenting with Leandre Griffit and Fabrice Fernandes as wide men against Chelsea last week they couldn't find a place in the squad.
Clearly Strachan is using a system of trial and error in the hope that he finds something that works.
Things got much better in the second half as Chris Marsden and Jason Dodd came on.
Paul Telfer pushed up to the right of midfield, while Marsden partnered Prutton in the centre.
But bringing on a 34 and a 33-year-old and basing your best midfield around a 34-year-old and a 32-year-old is hardly promising for the future.
Strachan says he knows what he must do from now on.
By that he means he knows who he shouldn't pick - who he should isn't so easy to spot.
McCann, Delap and Svensson can expect to be frozen out for a period, while Marsden and Telfer should stay in.
Prutton could also keep his place while Fernandes and Griffit should come back into the reckoning - even Marian Pahars may be given a run as a winger as he was in the last 20 minutes of this game.
To be honest, no matter what combination he picks, it's hard to imagine it could be much worse than what was witnessed in the first 45 minutes at Villa Park.
If it wasn't for Antti Niemi, Saints would have been on the receiving end of a stuffing by half-time.
The Finnish number one was on inspired form, while his beleaguered defence must have wondered what was going on. Every time they got the ball out, the midfield lost it and it came straight back.
The same could be said for James Beattie and Kevin Phillips.
Desperately low on confidence, Phillips has had one chance of note in the last few weeks. Saints need to offer these guys more from midfield - and they need to start doing it now.
Saints' only openings on Saturday were hardly even worth noting. Thomas Sorensen had to be on his guard early on and Phillips squared a ball across the six yard box in the second half which nobody could convert.
Villa scored the only goal of the game a minute before half-time.
Niemi had saved superbly from Peter Whittingham but Gareth Barry's floated corner was headed back towards his own goal by Beattie and Dion Dublin produced a dramatic overhead kick to plant the ball in the far corner.
Before that Niemi had stopped excellently from Darius Vassell and twice from Juan Pablo Angel, while Villa had been a whisker away on several other occasions.
After that Niemi had to be on the top of his game to keep out Ulises De La Cruz, Lee Hendrie, Dublin and Thomas Hitzlsperger.
It's great news that Strachan is staying but it looks as if his biggest test since keeping Saints up is now in front of him.