Date: 30th January 2011 at 1:15pm
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The visit of the Premier league leaders saw a near full house at St Mary’s for a game that proved to be a step to much for the hosts.

Both sides made a few changes to their starting line-ups as was expected.Saints gave Bartosz Bialkowski a go in goal and he looked calm and assured in all that he did.

Butterfield came in fo Richardson and Harding remained at leftback with Dickson replaced by Lee Barnard. Chamberlain was switched inside from his usual slot and Guly moved across to make room for Barnard.

Jose wore the captain’s armband and I for one think that this should be the way it should stay. Jose had a fine game and did a good job at the back.

The game started brightly and with both sides playing open attacking minded sides it augered well for the game.

Saints thought that they had scored on seven minutes but the goal was disallowed due to harding being fractionally offside as he put the ball home.

United responded and after some fine work from Fabio Michael Owen came very close to opening the scoring for united with a shot that curled just wide of the far post.

The bright opening continued and next it was Saints who forced a save fom Lindegaard as the hosts showed scant respect for their premier league opposition.

Then Michael Owen again had a good chance and with a cross come shot he fired the ball into the box and saw it caress the crossbar on it’s way across. A narrow escape for Saints but they continued unabashed with their endeavours to make their attacking play pay off with a goal.

Lee Barnard was hauled down and from the free kick Lambert took aim and went agonisingly close to scoring with his effort just sailing over.

Saints were still giving little away and Obertans was forced to shoot from distance and fired wide. Gibson then fouled Schneiderlin and was lucky not to get booked. Lambert again took the free-kick and this time using a bit more pace but his shot went high.

Harding then tried his luck but his shot was saved comfortably and then Guly headed a great cross from Butterfield wide as Saints chased the impossible.

With time running out before the half-time break Saints struck. Richard Chaplow burst into the box on the right and then unleashed a tremendous shot which flew past Lindegaard into the back of the net.

Half-time and the mood in the ground was electric. Suddenly the impossible seemed just a little more achievable though we all knew that sooner or later United would bring on the reinforcements needed as they tried to claw their way back into the game.

Fabio was replaced with Wes Brown at the start of the second half and still the hosts were making life very difficult for United.

On 52 minutes harding went on a mesmorising run beating two players before getting into the box but the ball was on the wrong foot and he scuffed his shot leaving Lindegaard an easy save.

On 55 minutes united made the changes that we had been dreading. Giggs and Hernandez coming on for Gibson and Anderson.

Five minutes later Evans made a last ditch sliding tackle to thwart Oxlade-Chamberlain. The ball then went up to the Saints end and Giggs provided a superb cross which found Evans but his header was saved by Bialkowski.

Slowly United took more of a foothold and Hernandez went close. The equaliser when it came had a stroke of good fortune for United as an Obertans cross was deflected into the path of Owen who headed the ball home.

Saints responded well and five minutes later came close to regaining the lead. A corner was won and from it Harding found Chamberlain who quickly returned the ball and Harding shot with the ball going narrowly wide as Lambert slid desperately in on the far post valiantly trying to reach the ball.

Barnard was replaced soon after by Dickson and this allowed Guly to join Lambert up front. Dickson going into the left midfield position.

Nani was next to try a shot as he found Bialkowski in the way and then Chamberlain tried his luck but shot wide.

As the game entered the final fifteen minutes United took the lead. Giggs found Hernandez with a telling through ball, and the striker slid the ball under the advancing Bialkowski. The keeper so nearly managed to make the save but saw the ball hit the post before rolling into the goal.

Guly was then brought off as Dany N’Guessan made his debut for Saints. Shortly after Oscar Gobern came on for Richard Chaplow who was given a great round of applause.

Saints refused to lie down and continuously pressed and harried united as their players began trying to run down the time left on the clock.

Saints kept pressing but United held on and ended up taking the spoils and a place in the next round.

A good try and performance from our team and one which gives us hope for the future.

Player Ratings

Bialkowski 7
Bartosz gave an assured performance between the sticks and in doing so gave a gentle prod to the manager. Looked totally at ease and seemed to relax the defenders in front of him.

Butterfield 7
Danny had a good game and as well as defending well sent some good crosses into the box to cause problems for United.

Fonte 7
Jose was captain for the day and had a good forcefull game. Gave a nudge for the captaincy as he seemed well at ease with the armband on his arm.

Seaborne 7
Like the rest Danny had a solid game. Didn’t make as many telling forward runs as his defensive partners but stayed alert.

Harding 8
Dan had a very good game and was a persistant threat when breaking forward.

Chaplow 8
Man of the match and scored a great goal to confirm his growing stature in the team. Has become an essential member of the team with his tackling and harrying.

Schneiderlin -7
Morgan played mostly in front of the defence and apart from a few misplaced passes as he tired gave a good account of himself.

Do Prado 6
Guly kept trying but had a more ineffectual game than has been the norm of late.

Oxlade-Chamberlain 6
Alex showed glimpses of what he have become used to seeing and will have learned from the experience.

Barnard – 6
Lee kept trying but looked like a player short of confidence and was pretty inefective where it mattered most.

Lambert 6
Rickie tried well enough but found the step up in class was harder than normal to cope with. Had a couple of chances and came close with one free-kick.

Gobern 5
Didn’t have much impact when he came on though he did make a couple of tackles.

Dickson 6
Ryan replaced Barnard and helped shore up the left hand side of defence. Linked well with Harding at times.
Came on too late to do much and failed to make an impression.

Manager Rating
Nigel Adkins made a couple of changes and on the whole gave United plenty to think about. The team tired in the end but gave their all for the manager. 7

Opponent Rating
Fergie played a cute hand and made his substitutions when necessary. His squad is filled with quality and in the end he chose the weapons to do the job in the second half. 7