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Stockport County 1 Southampton 1
SAINTS must be wondering what they have to do to win a league game this season.
We’ve seen the good, the bad and now the farcical as the team, the opposition and the fates have conspired against them.
It looked for all the world as if that first league win under Alan Pardew was coming at Stockport.
Before the game there was a consensus of thought that they really did need a victory at Edgeley Park.
There have been plenty of good performances – and this was another – but losing leads, not winning games you should, is doubly painful when you start a season on minus ten.
Nobody is getting unduly worried at this stage of the campaign but there is no doubt that Saints would have been hoping to be a little better off than minus seven after the first five games.
Another game Saints deserved to win but didn’t. They missed some good chances but weren’t helped at all by an awful refereeing display. It sounds like a stuck record but there are so many positives to take – just not three points.Adam Leitch
They need that first win and hopefully that will kickstart them before it becomes a millstone around the neck and a mental block occurs.
The draw at Stockport was a cruel blow as this time Saints were robbed.
It would be a lie to say that they could not have finished it off themselves before the referee’s late intervention.
They had the possession, the domination and also the chances in the second half to have made an injury time penalty a mere consolation.
They missed those openings, not the referee.
But Mr Carl Boyeson, the man in black, had a very big role to play in proceedings and ultimately made the decision that cost Saints those valuable two points.
Boyeson had quite a day of things – he awarded two penalties for handball, didn’t give another apparently blatant spot kick and made a strange decision when Marek Saganowski was away.
Watching from the sidelines, when a referee gives a contentious decision against the home team and starts to get berated by their supporters you always wonder in the back of your mind whether he will even it up.
That is not to say they will cheat.
Thankfully we do not have anybody like that refereeing in this country.
But when a 50-50 decision comes along they might be more likely to give it than not.
After a bit of early sparring, Boyeson had his first input on 25 minutes.
Jacob Mellis cut in from the right and looked for all the world as if he was pulled down inside the area by Michael Rose, but nothing doing for Mr Boyeson.
He further enraged Saints on the half hour mark.
Saganowski was competing with Michael Raynes and shrugged off his attentions to leave himself one-on-one with the keeper.
However, Boyeson adjudged Saganowski had actually fouled Raynes and awarded a very harsh looking free kick.
Saints’ dominance in midfield, particularly central pair Lloyd James and Dean Hammond, meant they were largely in control of the game. Despite a few half chances for Stockport, it was Saints doing most of the pressing.
Adam Lallana tested Owain Fon Williams three times before the break, the most notable a fierce shot after Hammond’s cross that the keeper saved with his legs at the near post.
Saganowski might also have done better with a header from a Lallana cross before, in first half injury time, came one decision Saints did agree with.
Lallana chipped a corner into the box and Mr Boyeson pointed to the spot for a penalty for handball.
It was a strange one – Saints didn’t appeal too much but Stockport didn’t really argue which rather gave the game away that it did indeed strike a raised arm.
Rickie Lambert never looked in any doubt as he buried the ball in Williams’ bottom right hand corner with virtually the last kick of the half.
Saints had a lead to build on and they should have done that in the second half as they created seven decent chances and had a goal disallowed.
After Lallana’s half volley was saved by Williams came three chances in quick succession.
First Lambert met Lallana’s corner but smashed his header against the crossbar.
Then James tested Williams with a near post shot.
And from the corner a scramble via the bar saw Wayne Thomas head over from close range when he should have hit the target.
Saints were given only very occasional reminders such as Kevin Pilkington’s shot which Davis turned wide.
But most of the action was still up the other end.
Lambert flashed a great ball across goal on 61 minutes but nobody had gambled to be able to tap it home.
Saganowski had a sniff of an opening three minutes later as Williams put a weak clearance straight to him 25 yards out, but he fired his volley well wide.
Saints thought they had struck again on 69 minutes when Lallana’s mishit overhead kick fell to Saganowski who put it in but the linesman’s flag was up for offside and there weren’t many complaints.
Lambert had another chance to seal it late on but, with a free header from eight yards, only picked out the keeper.
And so, almost inevitably, came the goal that lost another win.
Three minutes into three minutes of added time a ball was chipped into the Saints area and Pilkington volleyed it goalwards.
It struck Neal Trotman from close range, seemingly on the arm but he was virtually facing the other way.
Boyeson decided it was a penalty.
Under plenty of pressure Carl Baker achieved pretty much a carbon copy of Lambert’s spot kick.
Just seconds later the final whistle had gone. It can be a tough old game football, especially when you need a win.