Sunday, 3 January 2010

Saints' cup still half full as 2010 kicks off with a win

A blistering Ricky Lambert free kick was enough to dispatch lowly Luton Town on FA Cup 3rd round day at St. Mary's yesterday.

Saints 1 - Luton Town 0

Nearly 19,000 turned out on an icy day at St Marys (Fratton Park could attract just 11,000 for their home tie) as Luton made Saints battle for their place in the fourth round. After playing five matches already in the competition, the Conference outfit knew they had nothing to lose against higher tier opposition and came out attacking with two up front from the start, not loading the midfield as some had predicted. But despite a gutsy start from the non-leaguers, the difference in class showed in the first half as Saints created a host of chances, eventually making the breakthrough through Ricky Lambert's postage stamp set piece accuracy.

It was a different story in the second half, however, as Luton's spurned a couple of glorious opportunities, chances that even won the dubious acclaim of making it onto Andy Townsend and Robbie Earle's slot on 'miss of the weekend' during ITV1's highlights show. Saints clung on, however, to set up an immensely winnable tie at home to Roy Keane's struggling Championship outfit Ipswich in the next round.

In other news, Neal Trotman has returned to Preston after the northern side refused an extension to his loan. Olly Lancashire has been recalled as cover but Pardew has hinted that reinforcements may be needed if Saints are to continue to compete on so many fronts over the next few months.

Also, how good was it to see United beaten by Leeds today in the cup?! Fairytale stuff. You wonder, however, whether it will do more harm than good in terms of Leeds' prospects in the League this season. The televised triumph has put the spotlight on the club and its talents just as the transfer window gets underway. Could it have jeapardised their chances of automatic promotion at just the wrong time?

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