Saturday, 21 March 2009

Stage set for agonising April as Saints salvage point

David McGoldrick’s second half strike was enough to secure a point for Saints at Blackpool today, but, with games running out, their failure to get all three may prove costly come the final reckoning.

Blackpool 0 – Saints 0

Saints fought back bravely after conceding a dodgy penalty in the first half, but this is nonetheless a result which extends their run of matches without a win to four. The result was even more excruciating to bear for the one thousand strong travelling contingent with Andrew Surman hitting the post from a free kick deep in stoppage time.

Other results, though, did go Saints’ way for once and a string of good results and a bit of luck will still see them to safety. It is not all over, though Radio Solent analyser and ex-Saints boss Dave Merrington feels Mark Wotte may not be giving his side their best chance of survival. He criticised the Dutch Head Coach for not being more positive and playing two wide men from the start, a change which paid dividends when it was eventually made in the second half.

Saints now have a two week break to work on their shortcomings and prepare for a month of fixtures which will determine the future of the club. I just hope they can take the pressure- I know I can’t.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Relegation race takes shape as Saints slip up again

Saturday’s failure to secure three points at home to a lacklustre QPR outfit means Saints remain entrenched in the bottom three with just eight games left. Just two points adrift – and with a game in hand on most of their rivals – their safety remains in their own hands, but if Saints fail to be more clinical in the weeks ahead survival will look more and more unlikely.

Saints 0 – QPR 0

A gap of three points has opened up between Blackpool in 18th place (46 points) and Plymouth in 19th and it looks as if the bottom spots will be filled by three of that bottom cluster.

Plymouth P39 43pts
Norwich P39 42pts
Forest P39 41pts
Barnsley P36 40pts
Saints P38 39pts
Charlton P38 28pts

Charlton look too far adrift now so it looks likely that those two other spots will be filled by the five teams above them, propped up for the moment by Saints. The run-in has not been kind to Saints, with five of our eight games left away from home (Thanks to the re-arranged Watford fixture). However, that has not made much of a difference for us this season so should not be regarded as too important a factor.

Blackpool A
Charlton H
Watford A
Wolves A
Palace H
Wednesday A
Burnley H
Forest A

Saints should be looking to get points off Watford and Wednesday (who should be a bit safer by then) and Palace and Burnley (who should be out of all reckonings by then). Either way, it is going to be tight and looks sure to go all the way to the final day, where a showdown with fellow-strugglers Forest will make excruciating viewing.

The bottom line is that if Saints underperform as they have done at home in the last two games, they will go down. They need to rediscover the spark which drove them to three wins on the bounce if they are to have any hope and probably look at take 3 wins and 2 or 3 draws from these 8 fixtures if they are to do it. Over to you then, lads.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Hopes take hit as Saints caught in doldrums

"What if?" was the prevailing sentiment around St. Marys this evening, as Saints were held to a costly draw by a run-of-the-mill Derby side

Saints 1 - Derby 1

Still far from safe, Saints entered their tenth-from-last game of the season knowing that nothing other than three points would be enough. Saints fans' hopes may have been artifically inflated by their recent wins but with time running out, tonight was an ideal opportunity to push on. However, in a tightly contested game Saints could not deliver the performance required, providing a result which piles on the pressure for Saturday's fixture against QPR. There is still hope, but a similar failure then really would send Saints into the wilderness.

Saints goal - which came, luckily, via a Derby defender - raised hope of an undeserved win, but the visitors were able to level minutes from time. They remain in touching distance of their rivals, and still have a game in hand, but tonight's was not a game to inspire confidence. The most worrying thing, in view of the fact that a win - however undeserved - would have lifted them marginally away from the trouble, was the nature of the performance. The lack of flair and passion displayed in such an important game explains the boos that came at the final whistle and the deep sense of frustration that rancours amongst Saints fans tonight.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Disappointing afternoon leaves reds feeling blue

After the party, the hangover. Saints' restored hopes of survival were offered a significant wake-up call this afternoon, other results leaving them entrenched in the bottom three as they slumped to defeat at St. Andrews by a single goal.

Birmingham 1 - Saints 0

Saints' amazing run of late had to end at some point, but the manner of the Blues' win will leave them feeling some regret that they could not salvage a point. The only goal came in stoppage time at the end of the first half during a tepid affair in which Saints failed to create the chances that have characterised their recent performances. Wins for Derby, Blackpool and Watford add a further shade of grey to a poor afternoon and mean it is now even more crucial Saints pick up at least four points in their upcoming brace of home games if they are to stay in touch.


Friday, 6 March 2009

Bloody Hell! Survival bid steps up a gear in East-Anglia

Saints made it three out of three on Tuesday night, apparently blessed boss Mark Wotte describing their 3-0 demolition away to Ipswich as one of the best nights in the club's history.

Ipswich 0 - Saints 3

Three on a bounce has been an unheard of feat for Saints recently (last achieved under Burley in 2006) and the result gives another significant boost to hopes for suvival. Though other results again went against Saints - they still lie two points adrift of Blackpool - the side's mounting confidence has got rival teams looking over their shoulders going into the run-in. A tricky trip to St Andrew's follows tomorrow, but subsequent home games against QPR and Blackpool provide massive chances for Saints to kick on in their bid for survival. And let it not be forgotten that these three wins have come against top-half opposition; proof that it is all about form - and not necesarily class - in this division.

With more unsavoury reports in today's papers coming as an untimely and unwelcome distraction to the players, this unlikely survival bid could come off the rails at any time. But at the moment, anything seems possible - expressed perfectly by Jason Euell's brace on Tuesday night. On the pitch, things appear to be consistently going Saints' way for the first time this season- let us hope it can continue tomorrow.

Which team will fill the third relegation spot?

Four games left. Will Saints survive?

Would you be in favour of a return for Rupert?