St Mary's stalemate sees Saints safe

By SFC Media Sat 27 Apr Saints v Bournemouth
Photo by Matt Watson | James Ward-Prowse
Sat 27 Apr 3PM
Premier League
Southampton
3
Bournemouth
3
Long [12'] Ward-Prowse [55'] Targett [67']
Gosling [20'] Wilson [32' 86']
Romeu (26') Long (35')
Gosling (45+2')
Referee: Graham Scott | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 31,310

Southampton made Premier League safety certain after accepting a share of the spoils during Saturday’s enthralling 3-3 meeting with AFC Bournemouth at St Mary’s.

The hosts twice led, but will be, in part, satisfied with acquiring the point that guarantees top-flight status for the 2019/20 season, despite turning out a performance that perhaps deserved victory.

Cardiff City’s loss to relegated Fulham gives Saints a seven-point swing with two games to play, meaning Neil Warnock’s side will battle demotion to the Championship with Brighton and Hove Albion in the coming weeks.

Shane Long was once again among the goals - scoring in three successive home Premier League games for the first time in his Saints career - so too James Ward-Prowse, who continues to repay the manager for his selection with another fine midfield display, while Matt Targett netted his first ever for the club, combining with fellow academy graduate Yan Valery in the second half.

Callum Wilson was involved in all three of the visitors’ goals, setting up their first, and scoring the proceeding two, but Saints can nevertheless take solace from assuring Premier League standing with a precious two games to spare.

Ralph Hasenhüttl made two changes to the side that started midweek exploits away at Watford; one tactical and one enforced.

The manager confirmed pre-match that Maya Yoshida was suffering with illness, meaning a recall for Valery, while Stuart Armstrong dropped to the bench as striker Danny Ings re-entered the fold - he was unused at Vicarage Road.

The adjustment in attack may well have been indicative of the manager’s wish to seize the initiative on home turf, especially against a local neighbour - and his wish was duly granted.

The tone was set early. Not quite the temper of a traditional regional derby, but it was clear from the off that south-coast bragging rights meant plenty to both sets of players.

Captain Pierre-Emile Højbjerg was hacked to the floor inside the opening exchanges, prompting a swift response from Saints. Retaliation by goal.

The hosts had a succession of chances to break the deadlock before the clock had ticked over five minutes, forcing Bournemouth to retreat, before the opener arrived in the 12th.

It had been coming. Nathan Redmond was freed down the left - his presence had already unsettled the Cherries’ makeshift backline - and he had the awareness to pick out the run of in-form Long, who side-footed low past Artur Boruc.

Four in five for the Irishman, and another profitable lead for Saints.

Shane Long celebrates giving Saints a 12th minute lead

The boys in red and white, roared on by a capacity St Mary’s crowd, were off to a flyer, but that didn’t dissuade the counterattacking prowess of Eddie Howe’s side.

Josh King, Wilson and Dan Gosling were all involved in the equaliser, which arrived in the 20th minute; the Norwegian feeding his strike partner, who in turn lay the ball on for Gosling to strike right-footed, sweeping beyond Angus Gunn.

Parity then, as excitement continued to overspill during a captivating first period.

Long toyed with the woodwork moments later, combining well with Ings before shooting against the glove of Boruc, benefiting from the rebound, but steering his second effort onto the post.

Saints could have easily regained their lead, but instead, found themselves unjustly behind with half-hour played.

King had threatened just before a corner was delivered from the left by substitute Ryan Fraser - a 23rd minute replacement for Chris Mepham - which was effectively fielded until it landed kindly at the feet of David Brooks.

He let rip from 25 yards, forcing an unsighted Gunn to parry, and providing poacher Wilson with the perfect opportunity to slot home from close range. His 14th of the season, the striker was unlikely to miss from that distance.

Pierre-Emile Højbjerg during the first half at St Mary's

The half-time whistle blew with Hasenhüttl’s men trailing, but with a solitary goal separating the sides, the game was far from over.

Ryan Bertrand’s speculative effort three minutes after the restart did little to trouble Boruc, nor did Redmond’s curler from the edge of the area, but a switch in shape was beginning to take effect.

Oriol Romeu was withdrawn at the break, replaced by Targett as Saints switched to three at the back, allowing for better width.

It proved to be the perfect solution.

The hosts needed to start the half brightly, and in doing so, gained momentum. Højbjerg won possession in midfield and passed control onto Ward-Prowse, who shrugged off a half-hearted challenge from King before finding the bottom corner with pin-point precision.

55 minutes played, all square. But that wasn’t enough for Saints, who sensed opportunity after wrestling back ascendancy.

12 minutes later, they were in front. The ball was recycled superbly by Ings, whose unselfish work was providing chances aplenty for others.

He invited Ward-Prowse to join the attack, who found Valery lurking ominously on the right. The Frenchman’s first touch took him past Nathan Ake, before whipping a lovely delivery to the back post, which was met by Targett and headed into the far corner - the manager’s faith in the club’s academy products continuing to be rewarded.

Matt Targett celebrates his first Southampton goal

But the gloss was taken off what looked to be a perfect afternoon four minutes from time, as the league’s most prolific pairing combined to net their twelfth of the season - Fraser teeing up Wilson for the leveller.

Saints therefore ended the day with less points than they deserved, but are safe in the knowledge that Premier League football will be played at St Mary's for the eighth consecutive season. 

Attention turns now to West Ham on May 4th, before returning to St Mary's to face already-relegated Huddersfield on the final day.

Southampton

Head to Head Stats

Bournemouth
  • Possession (%)
    44
    56
  • Shots
    22
    9
  • Shots on target
    7
    5
  • Corners
    9
    3
  • Passes Complete
    258
    352

Southampton

28
Angus Gunn (GK)
21
Ryan Bertrand
5
Jack Stephens
35
Jan Bednarek
43
Yan Valery
14
Oriol Romeu
Matt Targett (45′)
16
James Ward-Prowse
23
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (C)
22
Nathan Redmond
9
Danny Ings
Stuart Armstrong (81′)
7
Shane Long
Charlie Austin (88′)
44
Fraser Forster
10
Charlie Austin
17
Stuart Armstrong
18
Mario Lemina
39
Josh Sims
33
Matt Targett
66
Kayne Ramsay

Bournemouth

1
Artur Boruc (GK)
23
Nathaniel Clyne
Dominic Solanke (72′)
3
Steve Cook (C)
5
Nathan Aké
25
Jack Simpson
33
Chris Mepham
Ryan Fraser (23′)
4
Dan Gosling
Emerson Hyndman (53′)
20
David Brooks
8
Jefferson Lerma
13
Callum Wilson
17
Joshua King
29
Dominic Solanke
44
Sam Surridge
22
Emerson Hyndman
9
Lys Mousset
27
Asmir Begovic
24
Ryan Fraser
10
Jordon Ibe
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