Saints held by Watford

By SFC Media time Sat 10 Nov Saints v Watford
Photo by Matt Watson | Nathan Redmond
Sat 10 Nov 3PM
Premier League
Gabbiadini [20']
Holebas [82']
Bertrand (38') Soares (64') Højbjerg (88')
yellow card
Chalobah (55') Deulofeu (80')
Referee: Simon Hooper | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 28,153

Southampton were pegged back late on by visiting side Watford at St Mary's as the wait for a home Premier League victory this season continues.

Manolo Gabbiadini had fired the hosts into a first-half lead, which was maintained until the 81st minute, when José Holebas was able to claw his side level.

Watford, who had failed to score in 10 of their last 13 Premier League away fixtures, appeared happy to settle for the point, after trailing for so long in the tie, while the men in red and white will feel hard done by, having also been denied what looked to be a valid second goal.

It leaves Saints still searching for a first home success of the campaign, ahead of next week's international interlude, while Javi Gracia's side move level with Man United in the standings.

Hughes made three changes to the side that were disappointedly beaten at Man City six days prior, with Wesley Hoedt overcoming a foot concern in time to retain his place, but acquiring a new defensive partner in Maya Yoshida.

Jack Stephens dropped down to the bench, while Stuart Armstrong and Gabbiadini were recalled, in place of James Ward-Prowse and Shane Long - who was absent through injury.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10: Wesley Hoedt of Southampton during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Watford FC at St Mary's Stadium on November 10, 2018 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Wesley Hoedt plays the ball forward  

Saints began precariously. Hoedt had charged forwards to win a loose ball in midfield in the opening moments, but having done so, left a void behind him, with Gerard Deulofeu lurking.

A one-time pass from Will Hughes found the forward, in space down the right, and sensing an opportunity for an early opener, the former Barcelona man made a dash for goal, only for his low effort to be thwarted by the legs of Alex McCarthy.

More problems arose down the right in the seventh minute, again from the same source. This time Kiko Femenia had ventured forward, created space for colleague Deulofeu, and offered him the ball in order to do the rest.

The eventual shot, with bend but always rising, didn't trouble McCarthy, but signified another presentable chance for the visitors.

Isaac Success was next to test the hosts' resolve. His 20 yard drive was charged down by Hoedt, who slid across the greasy surface to effectively block the attempted shot, allowing Saints to regroup and stage their own plan of attack.

14 minutes in, and having successfully navigated a period of sustained pressure, it was the home side's turn to threaten. Gabbiadini had drifted infield, 25 yards from goal, and proceeded to wrap his left boot around the ball, watching it fly past the far side upright.

Close, but not close enough. Encouraged, Saints upped the tempo thereafter.

A pair of corners were delivered from the left, both by Nathan Redmond on his 100th appearance for the club, providing the towering frame of Hoedt with the chance to head at goal - which Ben Foster was acrobatically equal to.

The second corner had a different outcome.

Watford half cleared the original danger, but weren't able to prevent an incisive pass from Danny Ings falling to the feet of Gabbiadini eight yards from target. The Italian kept a cool head, and duly found the bottom corner, earning his side a first-half advantage in the 20th minute.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10: Manolo Gabbiadini and Maya Yoshida(above) of Southampton celebrate after opening the scoring during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Watford FC at St Mary's Stadium on November 10, 2018 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Manolo Gabbiadini celebrates the opening goal at St Mary's

Hughes's men had gained a real foothold in the game, but the lead was only slight.

Deulofeu continued to hassle, forcing another save from McCarthy on the half hour mark, from a similar position to his first, before a quieter than usual Roberto Pereyra tried the same from the opposite angle. McCarthy parried, with enough gusto to deter a second attempt from a Watford chancer.

Both mangers were forced into offensive changes before the half time whistle. Hughes was withdrawn for Hornets captain Troy Deeney, at the same time as Ings went down with a knock - Charlie Austin was the forward's replacement.

Bar the untimely loss of the former Liverpool striker, so far, so good.

The visiting substitute made his presence felt five minutes after the restart. Feminía had advanced well down the right and swept a low cross towards Deeney. The skipper needed little invitation to shoot, but under pressure from Hoedt, was unable to untangle his feet in time to get any purchase on the effort.

Watford continued to press, in search of an equaliser. And a golden chance nearly presented itself in the 58th minute, as Nathaniel Chalobah linked well with Deeney, before feeling the full force of Ryan Bertrand.

Calls for a penalty from the travelling fanbase ensued, but referee Simon Hooper wasn't to be persuaded. Saints could breathe again.

With only one goal in it, there was always hope for Gracia's side. But less so if Saints had gained a two-goal cushion, which Austin believed he'd delivered in the 66th minute.

Neat work from Redmond worked the ball towards the favoured foot of the striker, who guided his effort superbly into the corner of the net - with Foster helpless - only for the linesman to adjudge that Yoshida, standing in an offside position, had interfered with play without actually touching the ball.

A bizarre ruling, but one that would dictate that the scoreline remained at one nil.

James Ward-Prowse entered the fray with 15 minutes remaining, in an attempt to shore up the midfield third. His first task; a wide free-kick from the left, which he swung towards the head of Yoshida, but marked by Craig Cathcart, the Japan international wasn't able to get a clean run at it.

Worse news was to follow. Watford were gaining in influence, and found a way to make that pay in the 81st minute.

Holebas, having made little impact on the game, restored parity with the help of some good fortune off Cédric. The ball fell kindly to the full-back on the edge of Saints' penalty area, and he fired into a melee of players, gaining a fortuitous deflection off the Portuguese defender, which fooled McCarthy.

That's where the scoreline stayed, with both teams, one rather happier than the other, having to settle for a share of the spoils, at a rain-soaked St Mary's.


Head to Head Stats

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Alex McCarthy (GK)
Wesley Hoedt
Maya Yoshida
Ryan Bertrand (C) yellow card
Cédric Soares yellow card
Stuart Armstrong
replace James Ward-Prowse (74′)
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg yellow card
Nathan Redmond
replace Michael Obafemi (90′)
Manolo Gabbiadini goal
Mario Lemina
Danny Ings
replace Charlie Austin (40′)
Jannik Vestergaard
Mohamed Elyounoussi
Jack Stephens
Michael Obafemi
Charlie Austin
Angus Gunn
James Ward-Prowse


Ben Foster (GK)
Kiko Femenía
José Holebas goal
Craig Cathcart
Adrian Mariappa (C)
Nathaniel Chalobah yellow card
Will Hughes
replace Troy Deeney (40′)
Abdoulaye Doucouré
Roberto Pereyra
replace Andre Gray (68′)
Isaac Success
Gerard Deulofeu yellow card
Andre Gray
Ben Wilmot
Stefano Okaka
Heurelho Gomes
Adam Masina
Christian Kabasele
Troy Deeney
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