Southampton 1-1 Crystal Palace: Premier League

by Samuel Abasi Posted on January 30th, 2019

James Ward-Prowse scored his third goal in four games as Southampton were held by ten-man Crystal Palace at St Mary’s.

Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side were forced to come from behind, after Wilfried Zaha’s first-half opener, before Ward-Prowse levelled proceedings with 13 minutes to play – finding the net in each of his previous three Premier League outings.

The Palace scorer, a constant source of threat, was latterly dismissed after an incident involving Ward-Prowse, which resulted in a quick-fire double yellow, and an early exit for Zaha.

The draw means the two sides remain locked on 23 points in the Premier League table – four clear of the drop zone – with surrounding teams, namely Burnley, Newcastle and Fulham all picking up unlikely points on Tuesday evening.

Saints started with an unchanged line-up, fielding the same XI that registered a 2-1 success over Everton 11 days prior.

Nathan Redmond partnered Danny Ings in attack, with Pierre-Emile Højbjerg the furthest forward of a midfield three – also containing Oriol Romeu and Ward-Prowse.

The visitors were first to gain impetus. Luka Milivojevic delivered a series of dead balls into the area, the first, innocuous enough, was effectively cleared but the resulting corner presented much more danger.

In-swinging, the delivery was met by the head of Ings, who inadvertently glanced it towards Mamadou Sakho, but the pace on the ball was a let off, as it whizzed past the far post without intervention.

Teenage full-back Yan Valery was faced with the threat of Zaha in the ninth minute, entering into a foot race down the left flank. A feat that not many entertain, let alone win, the youngster kept pace and timed his challenge excellently, clearing both ball and player.

Roy Hodgson’s side continued to enjoy possession, but their best effort of a promising spell was wasted by Milivojevic in the 13th minute. A smart pull-back from Andros Townsend located the Serbian in space, but the shot cleared the bar, and nearly the stand.

Zaha remained Palace’s out ball. The winger was the prime target when the visitors, in their bright yellow strip, had control of the ball, and he was attracting plenty of attention from Saints’ midfield general, Romeu. The Ivorian international went to ground on a couple of occasions, deemed to be softly by the home crowd, but he seemed to have the initial backing of the officials.

His run down the left in the 18th minute offered James McCarthur the chance to shoot rather harmlessly over Alex McCarthy’s goal, just before Ings got his turn to try for the opener at the opposite end.

Matt Targett had got forward well, motoring towards the by-line, before standing the ball up centrally, where the striker headed marginally wide of the mark.

But Saints were growing in influence. Ings was again involved in the 22nd minute, winning an unlikely matchup with Sakho before feeding Højbjerg, who had sprinted from the half-way line to make himself an option. The Dane took the shot on first time, sweeping towards the far side corner, and forcing a fine one-handed stop from keeper Vincente Guaita.

Again, the hosts probed in the 33rd minute. Jannik Vestergaard this time was the instigator, driving a high ball into the area, where red and white shirts were in attendance, but a combination of Sakho and Guaita managed to soak up the danger – if for a slight spillage in the lead up.

Palace, known for their speed on the counter-attack, were in full launch mode moments later, with Saints having committed players upfield. It left Højbjerg exposed.

Jordan Ayew skipped over the first tackle, but was brought down at second attempt – the midfielder receiving a booking for his troubles.

Unfortunately, worse was to follow. The ball rather rebounded off Townsend in the build up, but fell kindly at the feet of Zaha nonetheless, who cut inside and this time had the beating of Valery, neatly firing past McCarthy from 12 yards.

But if Saints were rueing a poor ending to the first half, they were straight on the front foot in the second. Targett won and took a well-positioned free-kick shortly after the restart, conceded by Aaron Wan-Bissaka (who was cautioned), but Vestergaard couldn’t arch his neck high enough to connect.

Ings was next to test Palace’s resolve, producing another good save from Guaita, after rounding James Tomkins and firing low from an angle. The hosts continued to press for the next 10 minutes, but were becoming increasingly frustrated – culminating in a late challenge from Jan Bednarek on Zaha, which bore the fourth yellow card of the game.

Hasenhüttl was forced to respond, withdrawing Valery in place of Stuart Armstrong. The Scotman’s first involvement, a shot from 22 yards, was off target, but represented more of what the manager wanted to see – attacking drive.

The change prompted reply from Hodgson’s camp, who sent on Jeffrey Schlupp to replace Cheikhou Kouyaté in the 70th minute. And the substitute was straight into the thick of things.

The former Leicester man won a corner, which when delivered created a melee in the Saints area, with Sakho eventually stabbing at goal, but finding the towering frame of Bednarek on the line – who kept his side in the tie.

And that gave the hosts the lift they needed. Both Redmond and Armstrong were involved down the left, skilfully exchanging passes, and waiting patiently for the overlapping run of Targett.

The best move of the game, the full-back received the ball and fizzed it across the face of the box, where Ward-Prowse was positioned to side foot home. 77 minutes in, the equaliser had arrived.

Two further chances followed – one for each side. A curling effort from Armstrong was parried by Guaita, far enough to dissuade any Saints follow up, before Townsend produced a similar save from McCarthy, who pushed to safety with equivalent comfort.

As the tie entered its conclusion, tempers frayed. Zaha was involved in a challenge with Ward-Prowse, which went unpunished, much to the dismay of the Palace forward, whose reaction warranted a yellow card from Andre Marriner.

But that wasn’t the end of it. Zaha continued to vent, adamant that he was the victim of wrongdoing, before ironically clapping the referee, and forcing his hand once more. Just seconds after producing a first booking, the winger received a second. Palace would play the remaining minutes with 10 men.

There was one final stoppage time chance for the hosts; Armstrong with a solo run which resulted in a blocked shot, but the draw, and point apiece, was perhaps the fairest reflection of a tightly contested game.

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Samuel Abasi

Samuel Abasi

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