Southampton travelled to face Millwall in the 4th round of the FA Cup with a much altered starting eleven. With several injuries and the Lambert suspension ending it came as no surprise to see the team looking so different.
Bialkowski came in for Davis which was expected, but Fox playing as a centre back was a slightly surprising choice. Ben Reeves came in as did Richardson after he had played a cameo role in the Leicester game.
Lambert returned as did Lee Barnard for his first game of the season. Jason Puncheon’s return though was probably not as surprising as was the fact that he had been brought back into the fold.
Looking at who we had playing in defence it was no shock to see Millwall come out of the blocks quickly and they could have scored in two minutes but Feeney headed off target when Henderson set him up with a delightful header across the box. then on 10 minutes Henry missed what looked an even easier chance by ballooning the ball over the bar from 6 yards.
With the pitch in poor condition both sides seemed to be playing more of a long ball game. The pace was frenetic and Henderson had to take a quick pot shot at goal in the 17th minute which Bialkowski did well to save.
With the Saints slowly getting more into the game it was only a matter of time before we had a chance. When it came it fell to Aaron Martin but his header from a corner went just over the bar before resting on the top of the net. The we saw two similar range free kick attempts, one from Millwall’s Henry which Bialkowski saved with comfort, and one from Lambert which narrowly missed the target as it fizzed past.
Lambert made amends shortly after by breaking the deadlock. Reeves played a superb pass down the line for Harding who ran on and crossed from the bye-line for Lambert to head powerfully home, beating the keeper at the near post. Saints were in front and it had to be said much against the run of play.
With Saints switching Puncheon and De Ridder they were now looking a more solid outfit as Feeney was now much less involved than he hadd been. At half-time Saints were looking more composed though their were few chances made for them to increase their tally.
The second half began in much the same vein as the first with Millwall swarming forward as they searched for a way back into the game. Henry managed a tame effort after 5 minutes which sailed tamely over the bar. Lambert had a go in the 54th minute but was foiled by a sliding block.
With their fans roaring them on Millwall continued to look dangerous and their spirited play was pushing Saints back. Saints were resisting determinedly though and Martin at the back was standing strong at the heart of the defence.
Saints substituted Steve De Ridder with Lee Holmes in the 61st minute and two minutes later Tadanari Lee came on for Lee Barnard. Lee was welcomed by the Saints fans warmly as they waited to see what he had to offer the team.
Shortly after it was Millwall again who threatened. Trotter meeting a cross with space to spare but his effort was comfortably cleared by the defence before Millwall made a double substitution. Hackett and former Saints loanie N’Guessen coming on for Henry and Kane.
Millwall responded with more pressure and a Hackett corner was met by Craig who headed over from six yards. Then Hackett took a shot from the edge of the penalty area but fired over. Bialkowski then turned an inswinging corner from Hackett over the bar just as it looked liked hitting the target. Trotter then had a shot which also sailed over.
Saints responded with Puncheon having a shot deflected though Forde was able to gather the ball comfortably enough. shortly after Puncheon was substituted, with Luke Shaw coming on to make his debut for Saints. Lee Holmes then had two glorious chances to make the game safe for Saints. He hit his first shot well enough but it was saved well by Forde. Then Lambert found him with a brilliant cross that looked a formality for him to score but he missed the target.
Bialkowski then found himself in the referee’s book for time wasting. Hackett then had a good effort well saved by the keeper before Millwall made Saints pay for the missed chances. The ball was crossed into the box from the left where Henderson beat Harding and turning drove the ball home.
The goal spurred on the Lions as they tried to force a winner but Saints defence held out until the final whistle for a hard earned draw. Final score 1-1.
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Nigel Adkins 7
ay have surprised a few with the selections but the team fought hard for him and patched up side did him proud.
Kenny Jackett 7
enny had his team fired up for this and he had them playing a spirited game with lots of attacking flair.