Stephens on target again but Saints held

By SFC Media Wed 31 Jan Saints v Brighton
Photo by Matt Watson | Ryan Bertrand
Wed 31 Jan 7.45PM
Premier League
Southampton
1
Brighton & Hove Albion
1
Stephens [64']
Murray [14']
Hoedt (35') Stephens (67') Gabbiadini (90')
March (80')
Referee: Mike Dean | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 30,034

Jack Stephens scored his second goal in two games as Southampton rallied to take a point against Brighton, but the hosts were denied the victory they craved at St Mary’s.

Mauricio Pellegrino’s men started slowly and fell behind to Glenn Murray’s 15th minute penalty, but dominated the second half in a bid to turn the tide.

Stephens duly flicked home James Ward-Prowse’s low free kick 20 minutes after the interval, but plenty of pressure was not converted into a killer second goal.

Pellegrino made one change to his starting line-up following the Emirates FA Cup victory over Watford, a result that extended Saints’ unbeaten run to four games.

Ward-Prowse was recalled in place of Sofiane Boufal, with new signing Guido Carrillo among the substitute as Shane Long continued to lead the line.

Brighton, attacking towards a boisterous away following in the first half, carved out the first chance inside the opening minute.

Solomon March escaped down the right and squared the ball across the box towards Murray, inadvertently finding opposite winger Jose Izquierdo in the process.

It was a clear opportunity for the Colombian, but he leant back at the vital moment and skied his shot high over the crossbar.

The visitors continued to enjoy the better start, and took a crucial lead on 14 minutes.

After Oriol Romeu headed a Ward-Prowse corner over the crossbar, Albion got back on the attack and Izquierdo found March in the box, who sharply turned away from Wesley Hoedt and went down under the Dutchman’s trailing leg.

Referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot, and up stepped Murray to send Alex McCarthy the wrong way.

Glenn Murray fired the visitors in front from the penalty spot

Saints did show more intent as the first half wore on, but were just missing that clinical edge.

When Pierre-Emile Højbjerg had the chance to feed Dušan Tadić, he overhit the pass, while Ryan Bertrand sent a cross into the stand from an intelligent first-time pass from Steven Davis that set him free down the left.

Bertrand threatened to make amends when he went for goal from a tight angle soon after, driving his shot fractionally over.

A bit of luck would not go amiss either. When goalkeeper Mathew Ryan’s clearance struck the charging Højbjerg, the ball cannoned against the face of the crossbar.

Shane Long was first to react only to be denied by a last-ditch tackle on the rebound, before Stephens headed over from the resulting corner.

Another Ward-Prowse delivery was cleverly pulled back to the edge of the box for Bertrand, but the pass was bobbling slightly and the defender could not keep his shot down.

Pellegrino responded to a frustrating half with a double substitution before the restart, as Boufal and Carrillo were summoned to replace Romeu and Tadić.

Ward-Prowse’s crosses had represented Saints’ best chance of scoring, and that trend continued after the interval.

When the midfielder was afforded too much space on the left side of the box, he delivered plum on to the forehead of Stephens, who spurned the chance to make it two goals in two games by nodding wide from eight yards.

Jack Stephens's deft backheel drew Saints level in the 65th minute

But the two would combine again 20 minutes into the second period, this time to deadly effect.

From a free kick wide on the left, Ward-Prowse fizzed one in low and slightly behind Stephens, who had the foresight to help it on with a deft backheel hardly befitting a central defender. Ryan could only stand and watch.

Meanwhile, Carrillo was putting himself about, and tried his luck from 30 yards with a vicious strike that rose too high but demonstrated his positivity.

Having partnered Long for just over half an hour, he had a new foil in Manolo Gabbiadini for the final 12 minutes as Saints chased the winner they craved.

Virtually the entire second half was being played in Brighton territory, but clear sights of goal remained at a surplus.

Boufal probed, committing defenders without quite prising them open, while Ward-Prowse continued to wrap his foot around crosses without finding his target.

When Davis surged forward from midfield you sensed Carrillo’s big moment might come, but the striker could not collect the pass in his stride and the chance of victory came and went.

Tonight's Match Sponsor: Sport Pesa
Southampton

Head to Head Stats

Brighton & Hove Albion
  • Possession (%)
    66
    34
  • Shots
    18
    9
  • Shots on target
    3
    2
  • Corners
    7
    2
  • Passes Complete
    484
    215

Southampton

13
Alex McCarthy (GK)
2
Cédric Soares
5
Jack Stephens
6
Wesley Hoedt
21
Ryan Bertrand
11
Dusan Tadic
Guido Carrillo (45′)
14
Oriol Romeu
Sofiane Boufal (45′)
16
James Ward-Prowse
23
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg
8
Steven Davis (C)
7
Shane Long
Manolo Gabbiadini (79′)
44
Fraser Forster
26
Jérémy Pied
20
Manolo Gabbiadini
3
Maya Yoshida
9
Guido Carrillo
19
Sofiane Boufal
18
Mario Lemina

Brighton and Hove Albion

1
Mat Ryan (GK)
3
Gaëtan Bong
21
Ezequiel Schelotto
5
Lewis Dunk (C)
22
Shane Duffy
20
Solly March
6
Dale Stephens
24
Davy Pröpper
19
José Izquierdo
17
Glenn Murray
Leonardo Ulloa (77′)
13
Pascal Groß
Beram Kayal (83′)
16
Leonardo Ulloa
9
Sam Baldock
7
Beram Kayal
11
Anthony Knockaert
26
Tim Krul
18
Connor Goldson
23
Liam Rosenior
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