Saints got off to a rumbustious start in the third tier yesterday, earning a point in an exciting season-opener at home to Millwall. With St Marys bathing in rich sunshine, a crowd of over 20,000 came to witness the real start of the Pardew regime and left feeling confident about the season ahead.
Saints 1 - Millwall 1
Chances were shared fairly evenly in a match where a combination of heat and fatigue meant players were truly puffing by the end (Graeme Murty certainly was). But it was Saints who got the lead early in the second half as Matthew Paterson latched onto the loose ball following a goal mouth scramble. It was a sloppy but not undeserved goal and the perfect start to the Pards era. But in characteristic Saints fashion, the defence - which had been strong throughout - then suffered a wobbly ten minutes. The colossal Wayne Thomas was unlucky to concede a penalty and Kelvin Davies came to the rescue with a fine double save. But the excitement cost Saints dear as a lack of defensive organisation two corners later saw Nadjim Abdou rise unmarked to head home. Millwall had chances to win it as Saints ran out of steam but the side held on to move a point nearer to 0 points.
Positive Signs: A great atmosphere and good to have the crowd back. Aside from the 10 minute panic, our defence looks very solid, as good as any in the league. Dan Harding and Wayne Thomas both excellent and Graeme Murty, well, entertaining.
Room for improvement: Once injuries kick in, the cupboard is bare. Rahdi Jaidi was a big miss, but we also badly need another striker; we only have Pats and Saga, and the latter is probably off anyway.
Comedy moments: The distinctly unintimidating Millwall crew wore shirts with the phrase "we fear no foe" printed on the back. I bet midfield behemoth LLoyd James had them quivering in their steel toe-capped boots.
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