Southampton hosted Everton a mere three days after Nigel Adkins was replaced with Mauricio Pochettino. Saints fans were up in arms with several threats of demonstrations and a promise of pro Adkins displays during the game.
So we turned up tonight unsure of how the fans would react when Pochettino appeared, and also how the team would pay. as the time grew nearer to the kick off the atmosphere in the ground was actually very positive.
Some Adkins chants were heard but overall the Saints fans were positive and loudly cheered on the team once the game had started. Being cheered on the team began brightly.
From the start Saints played at a high tempo and knocked Everton out of their stride. A fine run down the right from Rickie Lambert was followed by a cross to Guly but Jagielka just beat Guly to the ball and so nearly put the ball into his own goal.
Luke Shaw does well to shepherd a ball out for a goal kick before Saints pressed forward again. This time Jason Puncheon is unlucky when he has a shot deflected wide of the goal. Ramirez takes the corner and finds Puncheon again but Everton manage to clear.
As the game reaches the 20th minute Ramirez wins a free kick 30 yards out. Rickie Lambert fires in a superb shot heading for the top corner and Tim Howard does well to make a brilliant save.
Though Saints were doing well Everton managed to break out and Boruc did brilliantly to deny Naismith and then did well again to collect a dangerous Leighton Baines cross.
Ramirez then came close to putting Guly do Prado through but Howard just manages to beat the Saint to the ball. Saints were still pressing but an Everton break saw Jos Hooiveld receive the first booking of the night for a foul on Fellaini.
Then in another Saints attack Lambert uses some lovely skill to make space for a shot but Howard is equal to the challenge and parries the ball clear. The high pressure Saints are playing is working well but the final touch is missing.
Ramirez is having a big input and from one of his free kicks Maya Yoshida goes down after what looked like a push from Distin but the referee waves play on. Saints then had another penalty claime dismissed as they kept the pressure going.
Yet again Ramirez takes centre stage, and only a flying save by Howard stops his fierce drive from finding the back of the net only winning a corner. From the corner Lambert heads for goal only to see Baines clear of the line. Jos Hooiveld is on hand but from 8 yards out he smashes a hard shot straight at Howard who saves.
The last five mintes goes by with Guly only thwarted by a desperate clearance from Howard. The clock runs down and at HT it is 0-0
The second half began with less urgency though Everton were giving Saints less time to dwell on the ball. Puncheon did make one run but Everton were looking more dangerous. A cross into Saints box was met by Fellaini and his shot was superbly turned round the post for a corner. Straight from the corner we again saw Fellai bring a save from Boruc with a close range header.
Luke Shaw was then fouled by Osman who received the second booking of the match. Seconds later Shaw did fantastically with a great run down the line before seeing his cross deflected for a corner by Coleman who goes of injured. From the corner Shaw has a shot blocked before Everton clear the ball to safety.
10 man Everton then break down the line and Shaw again does well heading behind to give away a corner. Then on 58 minutes, and before the corner is taken, Everton made their first substitution with an enforced switch, with the injured Coleman replaced by Victor Anichebe. Phil Neville then switches out to fill the right back slot.
Though Saints are getting the odd break out everton are beginning to push forward more in a role reversal of the first half. With the game advantage changing, Pochettino makes his first substitution by bringing on Jay Rodriguez for Guly do Prado.
Anichebe arriving gives Everton more impetus and Everton are looking more dangerous. Anichebe helps make a couple of quickfire chances for the visitors. The second which Jelavic who looked odds on to score when put through on wastes. After a good move Baines sends in a cross which Boruc claims. Everton are now on the front foot and they make another change with Kevin Mirallas replacing crestfallen Jelavic.
Saints manage a break and a Lambert through ball nearly finds a way through to danger but Distin clears. Anichebe is then played through in space in the box ,but he can’t convert the chance as Boruc knocks the ball behind for a corner. The corner is cleared but oly as far as Pienaar and Boruc again comes to Saints rescue with a great punch to clear the danger.
Ramirez is then looking in trouble and is substituted with Steve Davis replacing him. Gaston has been playing well in what could have been his best performance to date for Saints.
The game is now now becoming more scrappy with 15 minutes to go. A cluster of stoppages seems to have taken the edge from the game. Luke Shaw and Morgan Schneiderlin collide and we have another hold up but both resume after attention.
Former Portsmouth defender Sylvain Distin was heavily involved with defending at the back for Everton as he twice has to head clear under pressure. He watches powerless to stop Rickie Lambert stealing in for a far post header which narrowly clears the top of Howard`s goal from a Puncheon corner.
With time running out Saints were again upping the pressure. Jay Rodriguez is looking lively and Saints make their final change with Steve de Ridder joining the fray replacing Jason Puncheon.
The game ends with Boruc punching clear under severe pressure.
If this is a sign of what we are to expect it looks like we will have an eventful journey. No way was this a normal 0-0 type of game
David Moyes 7
Improved the way his team played and made a couple of good substitutions in the second half.
Mauricio Pochettino 7
The team was raring to go from the start and should have been out of sight by half time. Promising start.