Saints 2-0 Wolves – Report

By SFC Media time Sat 04 Aug Club

A goal in either half for Saints was enough to see off Championship new boys Wolves on Saturday.

Billy Sharp and Jason Puncheon each found the back of the net as Nigel Adkins’ men came out on top in a match where they were given a good work-out by a team who competed in last season’s Premier League.

Much of the performance will also have given the Saints manager plenty to be pleased with as his side played some effective football at times, and took their goals well.

Sharp showed poise and composure to finish Lallana’s cross on 22 minutes inside the area, with the lead doubled by Puncheon’s low drive after collecting possession from midfield and lashing home with his second touch as play entered the last quarter.

Saints: Gazzaniga, Clyne (Richardson 60), Hooiveld (Seaborne 80), Stephens (Fonte 60), Fox, Guly (De Ridder 75), Chaplow (S. Davis 70), Hammond (Chambers 80), Lallana (Ward-Prowse 70), Puncheon (Rodriguez 75), Sharp. Subs (not used): K. Davis.

Wolves: Ikeme, Zubar (Doherty 80), Ward, Doumbia, Johnson, Stearman (Berra 65), Davis (Foley 65), Henry, Ebanks-Blake (Jonsson 80), Sigurdarson, Forde. Subs (not used): McCarey.

Referee: Andy Davies

Attendance: 3,978 (including 420 away)

Nigel Adkins named another forward thinking side for the warm up against a Wolves side that played in the premier League last season with Guly, Jason Puncheon and Billy Sharp starting in attack.

There were a total of nine substitutions to call upon for the hosts including a first appearance for summer signing Steven Davis. Rickie Lambert, Morgan Schneiderlin and Luke Shaw were all not risked due to slight knocks.

Billy Sharp and Dean Hammond got the match underway for the hosts with Saints attacking the Chapel stand on a mild afternoon inside St Mary’s.

An open start allowed Adkins’ side to play the ball around with purpose as they looked to stretch their opponents in the opening exchanges.

But it was the visitors, in all blue that were the first to make a ‘keeper work with Anthony Forde’s teasing cross from the left gathered by Gazzaniga under pressure from Sylvan Ebanks-Blake.

The Wolves striker got a clearer sight of goal on nine minutes when Stephen Ward’s arching pass down the centre set Ebanks-Blake through one-on-one with the Argentine stopper, but the ‘keeper showed good agility to save the effort low to his right.

A quick break from Saints on 16 saw Clyne take his first opportunity to get forward which he made the most of with a strong cross/shot that forced Wolves ‘keeper Carl Ikeme into an awkward looking save.

The hosts were equally potent on the left flank on the break with Danny Fox giving Wolves full-back Ronald Zubar plenty to think about, and the breakthrough goal arrived with Saints getting into their stride just past the 20 minute mark.

A neat sweeping move from right to left saw Puncheon, Guly, and Lallana combine for the latter to square the ball back across the six yard box where SHARP was waiting to gleefully strike home at the far post.

The goal added an extra spring into the hosts’ step with the front three linking up impressively with the support of Lallana and the ever willing runner Chaplow from midfield.

Ten minutes before the break a burst forward from Chaplow saw him cross for goalscorer Sharp, but this time the striker’s header cleared the crossbar.

In the closing stages of the opening 45 Guly was released by Lallana into the area, but the Brazilian was forced wide as he managed to win a corner at the end of half.

The set piece came to nothing as Saints took a narrow lead heading into the break.

Half Time: Saints 1-0 Wolves

The hosts picked up from where they left off with some bright play. Fox, Sharp, and Lallana all interchanged to good effect to supply Chaplow with a header, but the midfielder couldn’t quite guide his effort on target.

Saints continued to find joy on the right flank through Clybe who won himself a corner after some more impressive industry in the final third, with his effervescent performance mirroring the actions of the forward line.

On the hour mark Adkins withdrew both Stephens and Clyne, bringing on Fonte and Richardson in their places for the final 30 minutes or so.

The visitors created a half chance for themselves when Ebanks-Blake broke into the area on the right and picked out David Davis at the far post, but the midfielder’s shot was well off target as Gazzaniga covered the near post.

At the other end, another swift move forward resulted in Lallana picking out Guly, and the Brazilian’s acrobatic volley was well constructed, but couldn’t find the target as it went over. 

Further changes transpired with Davis and Stearman replaced by Kevin Foley and Christophe Berra for Wanderers, before Saints introduced James Ward-Prowse and Steven Davis for Chaplow and Lallana.

In-between those substitutions for either side, Jason PUNCHEON continued his fine pre-season form with a low strike into the bottom right corner from the edge of the area after being put through from midfield.

Jay Rodriguez and Steve De Ridder were the next pairing of Saints players to get into the game, replacing Puncheon and Guly, but despite the numerous comings and goings, the hosts didn’t let up in their perseverance going forward.

A particularly effective move started by Steven Davis released fellow substitute De Ridder, who had options waiting in the centre, but the Belgian elected to shoot as he just put his effort past the near post.

With ten minutes remaining both sides made their final changes with the hosts replacing Hooiveld and Hammond with Dan Seaborne and Calum Chambers, whilst Wolves withdrew Ebanks-Blake and Zubar with Eggert Jonsson and Matt Doherty.

Saints ended the contest with a reward for their dominance, as the goals in either half proved to be a testament to the progressive pre-season with every available outfield player getting some game time, whilst a clean sheet will also have pleased Paulo Gazzaniga who completed his first 90- minutes at St Mary’s.

Full Time: Saints 2-0 Wolves

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