Saints battle to Spurs draw

By SFC Media time Sun 21 Jan Tottenham v Saints
Photo by Matt Watson | Ryan Bertrand 
Sun 21 Jan 4PM
Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur
Sánchez (og) [15']
Kane [18']
Stephens (48') Romeu (60')
yellow card
Sissoko (57') Dembélé (75') Trippier (78')
Referee: Kevin Friend | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 31,361

A battling performance earned Saints a well-deserved share of the spoils with Tottenham Hotspur at St Mary's on Sunday afternoon.  

Two goals in three first-half minutes decided the result; Davinson Sanchez's own goal following Ryan Bertrand's superb driving run and cross was cancelled out by a Harry Kane header inside 20 minutes.

Saints enjoyed the better of the play, and while surviving scares at the back, can look back on a positive performance that may well have earned them all three points on another day.

The late substitute appearance of 17-year-old Michael Obafemi - the first player born since 2000 to pull on the red and white stripes - the finishing touch to a morale-boosting afternoon. 

The home side were put to the sword by Spurs at Wembley just under a month previously but they competed admirably and began much the brighter at St Mary’s where the memory of Cyrille Regis was honoured with a rousing minute’s applause before kick-off.

Mauricio Pellegrino’s men had already given the visitors cause for concern twice within the opening five minutes.

Manolo Gabbiadini warming the gloves of Michel Vorm after 14 seconds, his shot skidding dangerously off the turf and into the arms of Spurs’ stand-in keeper.

Vorm had to be sharp again moments later; Oriol Romeu picked the pocket of Son Heung-Min on half-way and released Dušan Tadić into space only for the Serbian’s cut-back to evade Gabbiadini in the middle.

The lively Tadić was involved once more, firing a low cross into the feet - and inadvertently through the legs - of Pierre-Emile Højbjerg on the six-yard line after a positive spell of possession.

Fortune was on Saints’ side for the opening goal however. Bertrand steamed down the left flank to collect Tadić’s measured through ball before seeing his drilled centre spin off the legs of the sliding Sanchez and into the net via the front post.

20180121 Southampton FC vs Tottenham Hotspurs FC
Ryan Bertrand, captaining the side at St Mary's, celebrates the opening goal.

Home joy was short-lived. Eric Dier had already struck the base of the post before Kane levelled the scores from Ben Davies’ corner, heading into the net unmarked from the penalty spot.

The hard running of Højbjerg, Oriol Romeu and Mario Lemina quickly put the hosts back on the front foot but it was Spurs who were increasingly more threatening in the final third.

A late block from Wesley Hoedt prevented Delle Ali from squaring for Kane for what would have been a simple tap-in before Moussa Sissoko volleyed Davies’ firmly struck cross wide of the target.

Midfielders Lemina and Dier took turns in side-footing straight at the goalkeeper either side of Jack Stephens guiding James Ward-Prowse’s superb right-wing delivery inches past the angle of crossbar and post as the first half ended level.

20180121 Southampton FC vs Tottenham Hotspurs FC
Jack Stephens' angled header almost restored Saints' lead before half-time. 

Saints’ positivity continued after the restart. A low save from Vorm kept out Ward-Prowse’s long-range shot and Tadić narrowly missed Cédric’s floated cross at the back post shortly afterwards following more good work from the Saints wideman.

Yellow cards were shown to Stephens, Sissoko and Romeu as the game began to stretch and the clock ticked towards the final half an hour.

The introduction of Sofiane Boufal in place of Højbjerg showed Mauricio Pellegrino's intentions for the final stages of an increasingly breathless encounter.

With Saints beginning to tire, Stephens smartly diverted a Kane snap-shot over the bar and Jan Vertonghen dragged wide after striding forward unchallenged from within his own half.

The time was right for a Premier League debut for Obafemi, the Irish youth international replacing Gabbiadini with eight minutes remaining to a roaring welcome from the home crowd.

The change galvanised Pellegrino's men in spite of Erik Lamela's miss from close range moments after the switch.

Then came what could have been the moment for Obafemi, the youngster slicing off target from Tadić's delivery from the right wing.

20180121 Southampton FC vs Tottenham Hotspurs FC
Almost a dream debut for Saints' Michael Obafemi...

Saints came again through Boufal only for the Moroccan to find his route to goal blocked by a dogged Spurs rearguard.

Kane flashed wide on the angle in stoppage time but the St Mary's crowd rose to appreciate a committed Saints performance moments later at the full-time whistle. A very well-earned point.

Acorn Press Blue
Sunday's match at St Mary's was sponsored by Acorn Press.

Head to Head Stats

Tottenham Hotspur
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Alex McCarthy (GK)
Wesley Hoedt
Ryan Bertrand (C)
Cédric Soares
Jack Stephens yellow card
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg
replace Sofiane Boufal (65′)
Mario Lemina
replace Steven Davis (80′)
Dusan Tadic
Oriol Romeu yellow card
James Ward-Prowse
Manolo Gabbiadini
replace Michael Obafemi (82′)
Sofiane Boufal
Steven Davis
Jan Bednarek
Michael Obafemi
Fraser Forster
Jérémy Pied
Nathan Redmond

Tottenham Hotspur

Michel Vorm (GK)
Ben Davies
Davinson Sánchez
Jan Vertonghen
Serge Aurier
replace Kieran Trippier (72′) yellow card
Dele Alli
Mousa Dembélé yellow card
replace Victor Wanyama (85′)
Moussa Sissoko yellow card
Son Heung-Min
replace Erik Lamela (70′)
Eric Dier
Harry Kane (C) goal
Kyle Walker-Peters
Fernando Llorente
Juan Foyth
Victor Wanyama
Erik Lamela
Kieran Trippier
Paulo Gazzaniga
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