The struggle that lies ahead for Saints was underlined last night as they could only hang on for a draw at home to play-off pretenders Ipswich. All pre-season talk of promotion was well and truly forgotten as Saints' young side struggled to remain composed in front of an attendance that could have fitted in The Dell.
Saints 2 - Ipswich 2
These may seem dodgy days for Saints, but they are at least exciting days, with the game being played at a frenetic pace. Andrew Surman got the opener with an accurate strike from the edge of the area. However, for all Saints' early dominance they never looked quite in control, a point proven by Ipswich scoring an equaliser eight minutes later. The scrappy goal could have been added to by the visitors before half time, Saints again being thankful for the presence of Kelvin Davies between the sticks.
The second half carried on in the same way, Ipswich taking the lead with a back post header after Nathan Dyer had rashly hit over. The goal highlighted the inexperience of the back line, particularly that of Lloyd James at right back, whose performance inspired all the confidence of a blind conductor. But, spurred on by some incredible support from the Northam End, Saints somehow secured an equaliser, Czech loanee Thomas Pekhart poking home. After this however, the Saints players truly lost their heads, running around like decapitated roosters, a lack of composure in response to the home support proving their inexperience. A winner look unlikely as Saints scampered forward and they were lucky to escape with a point as Ipswich broke on the counter.
If this result proves anything, it is that this season will be a bumpy ride, with flashes of youthful brilliance being overshadowed by a damaging signs of inexperience more often than not. Make do doubt about it, Saints will face a struggle to survive this season- the importance of winning games such as our next home tie against Barnsley is huge- but if Jan can lead the boys into the Championship again next season there will be much reason to be positive. In the meantime, Saints fans face a stressful few months- but at least it won’t be dull.
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