Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Match Report: Adkins Focuses On Next Game

Nigel Adkins Nigel Adkins of Scunthorpe United looks on during the Pre Season Friendly between Scunthorpe United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Glanford Park on August 4, 2009 in Scunthorpe, England.

Southampton boss Nigel Adkins has praised his squad for coming from behind to take three points against Hull City yesterday evening, but says that he isn’t interested in breaking any records.

Two second half goals from Adam Lallana and Guly Do Prado secured their 21st consecutive home win in all competitions. The last time they were defeated at home was nearly 10 months ago when Premier League champions Manchester United came from behind to win 2-1 to reach the last 16 of the Carling Cup.

However Adkins is ignoring the record books and focusing on Southampton’s serge into the Premier League.

"I'm trying not to look at records to be honest. It's great that we have got the momentum of winning games at home, and when that unfortunately comes to an end then we will take a look at the record books. In the meantime we will keep taking one game at a time and tonight I am delighted with a big three points.

He also applauded his side’s response to going a goal down, after going in at half time 1-0 down to the visitors.

"In the second half we have come out and what a great ten minutes that was.The crowd has got right behind the players and the players got the crowd going and that has got us two great goals and a good victory.”
“We've gone behind and then gone ahead and won, so it's a great three points and I'll analyse the performance tomorrow and as a team on Thursday morning and then move on.” Tonight I will take all the positives from it because we got a great three points."
Adkins changed around the tactics during half time, and with the introduction of skilful winger Steve De Ridder, saw a much more positive attacking display from his men.
"In the second half we have changed it and played with two wide players, we turned down several opportunities in the first half to put the ball into Rickie who was crying out for it, so that's why we made the change.
“That's what you can do when you have a squad because we have the impact off the bench to try and change things around.
Despite a stubborn and good performance by Hull City, their caretaker manager Nick Barnaby left Southampton bitterly disappointed.
"It's frustrating. We have to eradicate the silly mistakes. We're nearly there and we will get there. We need to work on some areas and have to iron out the mistakes. For 80 minutes I thought we played well but we were undone by 10 minutes of a lack of concentration."
Barnaby also criticised referee Oliver Langford’s decision to punish Robbie Brady with a straight red card after he caught Dan Harding late in a challenge with ten minutes remaining of the match.
"I don't think it was a sending off. I've looked at it again and I don't agree with the decision."

Match Report: Southampton 2-1 Hull City

saints hull

Southampton have extended their run of home victories to a record breaking 21 games, as they came from a goal behind to beat a resilient Hull City 2-1 at the St Mary’s Stadium tonight.

Two goals from Guly Do Prado and Adam Lallana was more than enough to see off the Tigers, after Robert Koren scored the opener towards the end of the first half.

Tributes were made to the late Gary Speed before kick-off, as a minutes applause was conducted in remembrance for the late ex-Leeds and Newcastle midfielder.

Saints started on the front foot, after snappy midfield play led to Morgan Schneiderlin wasting an opportunity to take an early lead when his shot from close range was spilled by Hull keeper Peter Gulasci but gathered quickly.

Hull put a lot of pressure on Southampton’s back four, with full back Liam Rosenior’s pace causing a lot of damage down the right flank.

With the half coming to the end, the Saints had a number of chances to break the deadlock, with Guly Do Prado squandering several headers wide of the target.

However Hull’s patience and hard work paid off, when a fine cross from Tom Cairney was met by the head of Slovenian international Robert Koren, who slotted the ball into the top corner to claim his 4th goal of the season.

Southampton returned to the field after the half time interval looking fresher and more determined. Looking comfortable on the ball, they threatened Hull’s defence immensely and within three minutes of the restart, they got their reward.

The introduction to crowd favourite Steve De Ridder proved influential, as an early cross by the Belgian winger was headed on by Lambert, falling to the fluorescent boot of Guly Do Prado who made no mistake in blasting the ball high into the net from 12 yards out.

The equaliser gave the Reds the confidence boost they strived for 48 minutes, and they looked like a side capable of attacking with intent.

The winner was in sight for the league leaders, and an adventurous run by Saints full back Frazier Richardson was complemented by a fine cross, and who else to fly in but Adam Lallana whose precise header found the bottom corner.

Hull pressed for an equaliser, and goalscorer Robert Koren curled a shot just wide of the post to scare the home supporters.

The final 20 minutes proved to be a tense period for the Southampton faithful, but on the 79th minute a high tackle by Hull midfielder Robbie Brady on Dan Harding meant the youngster was heading for an early shower. A straight red produced by referee Oliver Langford, the Saints gained control of the match to see out the stubborn visitors.

A hard earned victory meant that Southampton would remain at the top of the table, as West Ham beat promotion contenders Middlesbrough 2-0 at the Riverside. The defeat meant Hull City would drop three places to 10th, losing vital points as they push for the play-offs.

Match Preview: Southampton vs Hull City

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Championship league leaders look to set a new club record tomorrow night when they welcome Hull City to the St Mary's Stadium.

A victory in tomorrow’s encounter would mean the Saints have won the last 21 games on home soil, a post war record last set by Liverpool in the 1971/72 season.

Southampton currently sit at the top of the Championship with a two point cushion over rivals West Ham in second place, who aim to keep up the pressure on the Reds tomorrow when they travel north to the Riverside to face fellow promotion chasers Middlesbrough.

One absentee that will be missing from tomorrow’s game is midfielder Richard Chaplow, who only lasted seven minutes in last Saturday defeat to Bristol City.

Adkins will be relying on talisman Rickie Lambert to be firing the ball into the net, as the Liverpudlian has been in clinical form in front of goal for the Saints, firing in 12 goals in the 19 appearances he has made in the league this season.

The visitors on the other hand welcome Aaron Mclean back to the squad after serving a one match ban from reaching five yellow cards. The striker is likely to partner hitman Matty Fryatt, who is currently Hull’s top goalscorer with seven goals. However Paul McKenna will miss the trip down to the south coast as he too is serving a one match ban from reaching five yellow cards.

The tigers will be hoping to roar back to a much needed win tomorrow night, after two Matty Fryatt goals were cancelled out by a late attacking onslaught, as Hull let slip a two goal lead to lose 3-2 to Burnley at the KC stadium last weekend.

The previous time these two teams met, Hull ran out 5-0 victors, a result that was one of many impressive displays that took the tigers to the Premier League. In that same season, Southampton narrowly avoided relegation.

However three years on and Saints are in a completely different prospective as they look to secure a second successful promotion to the very top of English football. A 21st straight home win would keep the pressure on rivals Middlesbrough and West Ham, and boss Nigel Adkins is expecting a difficult test.

“It’s going to be a good game. I’ve seen Hull play on four or five occasions now and they play good football, they pass the ball around really well.”

Adkins went onto praise Southampton’s fans for their contribution to the Saint’s recent run of form. "The supporters are right behind us, on Saturday when things weren't quite happening for us, the supporters then tried to lift the players. That happens a lot at St Mary's because they can see that we want to move the ball about and we have scored more goals than anyone else in the division.

Southampton have yet to slip into their ‘rough’ patch and after a shock defeat at Ashton Gate, they will be looking to take three crucial points to remain favourites to be promoted to the big time.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Bristol City Announce £11.45 Million Losses

Since the introduction of Derek McInnes at Ashton Gate, Bristol City have made a remarkable recovery in this year's npower Championship.

With McInnes record currently standing at 13 points from six games, the Robins are slowly making their way out of the bottom four.

However it has been revealed today by club chairman Colin Sexstone that the club have calculated record losses of up to £11.45 million in 2011, giving City fans a lot to be concerned about. 

Talking to BBC Radio Bristol; Sexstone said, "It's a big problem. Wages in the Championship are far too big and  at Bristol City in particular they're just too much"

The huge decline in City's profits have been put down to player wage's and the stressful delays of the development of the new stadium. However many player's contracts are set to expire come next summer; including key players like super striker Nicky Maynard, keeper David James, Marvin Elliot, Jamal Cambell-Ryce and veteran Louis Carey. 

The amount of players at the club concerns Sexstone too, and he believes that they are earning way over the salary they deserve. "We've certainly got too many players. Keith Millen [former manager] thought that and I'm sure Derek McInnes does too, and some of them are earning too much."

Sexstone also hinted towards big players moving on in the transfer window in January. "I have no doubt that some players we will want to keep on but there are some we might not. That decision will be down to Derek. But it is an opportunity for us to replace some of those players with some on lower salaries."

Despite the news released today, Sexstone has expressed his delight at the recent run in form by the Reds that has seen his side go five games unbeaten.

"There's a feel-good factor at the moment and it shows you how quickly things can change. Having a 16,500 crowd makes a big difference."

Bristol City face Watford at Vicarage Road in tonight's Championship encounter between the two strugglers, where Derek McInnes will hope to extend his unbeaten run to six games.

Monday, 28 November 2011

There's Only One Gary Speed

Sunday 27th November, a sad and horrific day for the world of football. Gary Andrew Speed, 42, died in his home in Huntington, Cheshire.

As soon as the news of his untimely death spread throughout the country; fans, players, newsrooms and even the general public grinded to a halt in pure shock that the former Welsh captain had died.

Hours later, rumours had surfaced within the media that Mr Speed; a former midfielder for Leeds United, Everton, Bolton Wanders, Newcastle and Sheffield United, had took his own life. Sunday's Premier League encounters between Swansea and Aston Villa, and Liverpool and Manchester City were overshadowed by the news of the veterans demise. Craig Bellamy was forced out of the Liverpool squad to deal with the loss, and Villa 'keeper Shay Given was visually overwhelmed by the news, as the former team mate of 'Speedo' shed a tear before his performance against Swansea. 

A mixture of grief, anguish and confusion was amongst the thoughts of thousands of fans across the UK prompting the question; why?

Gary Speed was born on the 8th September 1969 in Mancot in North Wales. Supporting Everton as a child, Speed began his professional career at Leeds United in 1988 where he signed his first professional contract. Scoring 39 goals in 248 appearances in eight years, Speed moved to his beloved Everton in 1996 for a fee of £3.5 million.

 Lasting two years at Goodison Park and scoring only 15 goals in 58 appearances, he moved 174 miles north towards Newcastle where he was an influential part of Sir Bobby Robson's 'top four' side. 

In 2004, Speed moved back to Lancashire where he joined Bolton Wanders on a two year deal worth £750,000. Having made 121 appearances for the Trotters, he became the first Premier League player to reach 500 appearances. Four years later, he joined Sheffield United, a club that would end up being his last. 

Retiring in 2010 at the age of 49, Speed carried on at Sheffield United, undertaking a coaching role. At the start of the 2010/11, Kevin Blackwell was controversially sacked three games into the season. However Blackwell's departure opened the door to Gary taking over of Sheffield United boss, his first taste of a managerial role in a new chapter of Speed's career.

Having being linked with the vacant managers role for the Wales international team since John Toshack stepped down from his position, Speed became the new manager of Wales on the 14th December 2010. Bringing a new flare to a Wales side that has played under par for several years under previous management, three consecutive victories and a string of quality performances towards the end of the qualifiers  for the 2012 European Championships caught the eye of the footballing world. Wales looking clinical, it looked like a cracking bet that the Welsh might make the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

His final appearance being on Football Focus, a day before his untimely death, Speed looked like he didn't have a care in the world whilst he talked about Manchester United youngster Phil Jones and Charlton Athletic manager Chris Powell. However not only a couple of hours later, Speed took his life. 

A massive loss not only to British football, but to world football. Footballers from across the globe took to their Twitter accounts to pay their thoughts and respect for the proud Welshman. Galactico Xabi Alonso said, "RIP Gary Speed. My first PL game game was against him, he showed me in that game what British football is about."

Presenter of Football Focus Dan Walker was with Speed the day before he died. He tweeted: "Staggered by the news of Gary Speed's death. Was with him for much of yesterday. I genuinely cannot believe it. Thoughts with his family."
Manchester United striker Michael Owen said: "Just cannot believe the news regarding Gary Speed. We waved at each other a couple of days ago dropping our kids off at school. I'm numb."
Young Gunner Jack Wilshere tweeted: "Wow shocked at the news about Gary Speed! thoughts are with his family! RIP"
Tributes to the Welsh legend looks set to start at Cardiff City Stadium; where Cardiff face Blackburn Rovers in the last eight of the Carling Cup. The tributes will lead on into the weekend where every Premier and Football League team are expected to pay their condolences before kick-off. 
Farewell Gary Speed. A footballing hero on and off the pitch, you will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A City United

The city of Southampton believes. A feeling of optimism and hope is bubbling around this historic city as the Saints continued their impressive march towards the golden gates of the Premier League.

Saints recorded a 9th straight win at St Marys to maintain their 100% record at home this season. They swept Brighton 3-0, a Ricky Lambert hat-trick killing off the side that beat the Saints to the League One title last season.

However the table tells a different story this time around, as Southampton sit on the top of the Championship pile with a five point gap that separates themselves from the Hammers in second place, and look odds on favourites to make a dramatic return to the league that once was their home for 27 years.

Their first season in the newly rebranded Championship ended in haunting fashion, as the Saints suffered a humiliating back to back relegation to League One. After years of rebuilding, the Reds emerged out of League One as runners-up with the help of Super Saint Rickie Lambert who scored 51 goals in his two seasons. His form’s continued into this season, scoring 12 goals in the 17 appearances he has made this season.

This time last season, QPR beat Cardiff City 2-1 to go five points clear of their second place rivals. The Hoops went on to claim the Championship title, and the city of Southampton believes that the Saints can replicate this.

Alan, 23, from Totton believes that the south coast side have the depth to be promoted to the big time. “Yes, I feel Nigel Adkins has got the squad playing good attacking football and the team spirit is superb. Going forward we look outstanding and defensively just as good.” Barry from Eastleigh agrees with Alan. “There’s no reason why not. We have had a great start to the season and have also managed to beat West Ham. The only thing is that we need to keep the likes of Lallana and Lambert fit and keep hold of them during the transfer window.”

However Ben, 31, from St Marys thinks that the Reds could settle for the play-offs. “Realistically, we are play-off candidates without a shadow of a doubt. It’s too early to tell if we will get promoted automatically but if we play with the team spirit and attacking performances we’ve been producing then we’ll have one foot in the Premier League.”

Norwich City won back to back promotions to the Premier League last season, and one student from Solent University believes that the Saints can duplicate the Canaries accomplishment.“I’m a lifelong Saints fan but I can’t see us winning the league. There are many strong teams and we haven’t had our slump yet.  But I think we are strong enough candidates for automatic promotion and definite playoff contenders. Norwich got back to back promotions and we have the manager and the squad to achieve this.”

Next up for Southampton is a short trip to Ashton gate where they’ll face Championship strugglers Bristol City this coming Saturday.