Sunday 20 November 2011

Seagulls Fall To Saints

Southampton 3, Albion 0
npower Championship, St Mary's, Saturday 19th November

Over 3,200 Seagulls fans made the relatively short trip along the A27 and M27 to Southampton to see if Albion could put a stop to table topping Saints impressive unbeaten home run. Manager Gus Poyet knew he had a tough task on his hands, especially as he had some of his first team squad out with injuries. His controversial interview the previous day on Talk Sport when he got himself involved in the current debate on racism in football probably didn't help make for a smooth start to the day and became something of a distraction as the press gathered in numbers around the dug out just prior to kick off.

Poyet decided to dispense with Inigo Calderon at full back and opted instead for his 38 year old assistant, the hugely experienced Mauricio Taricco. The first half was fairly even and relatively uneventful as Albion contained Saints and 0-0 at half time was probably a fair scoreline.

Saints started the second half far more brightly and pushed forward with conviction in the early stages. It was prolific striker Rikki Lambert who rose high above Noone and Taricco at the far post to head in an unstoppable header to give Saints the lead in the 49th minute.

However the game took a dramatic turn in the 58th minute as Saints were awarded a penalty when Lewis Dunk tangled with Jose Fonte on the edge of the area. Albion's players were incensed at the decision complaining that the offence was clearly committed outside the area, as TV coverage would later prove. The assistant running the line did not show that it was a penalty when he flagged, he just indicated a foul. After a lengthy discussion with his linesman (sorry, assistant referee) the referee pointed to the spot. Taricco, who really should have known better, showed clearly his outrage in a fairly blunt and direct manner to referee Peter Walton, who then showed the full back a straight red card for dissent. Taricco getting sent off was the last thing Albion needed. Lambert stepped up to despatch the penalty to make it 2-0 to the home side and the game was effectively over.

Some ten minutes later yet another debatable penalty decision was awarded to the home side. Lambert stepped up to score his hat trick giving Saints an unassailable three goal lead. The match moved towards it's predictable close as Saints ran out winners in a match where I can't remember Albion having more than one shot on target during the entire 90 minutes. The match was always going to be a tough one to win but going down to ten men made it an impossible task, no matter how much Albion tried they were never going to get anything out of this game. A full match report can be read here on the official Seagulls website.

So I and 3,236 fellow Seagull fans made our way home down the motorway back to Sussex. We were disappointed but perhaps not too surprised at the result given the strength of Southampton and the circumstances surrounding the penalty decisions and the subsequent sending off. I find it strange that someone with Taricco's vast experience should get himself sent off due to poor self discipline, hardly the example that the assistant manager should be setting to his players. Okay, the referee clearly made the wrong decision but Taricco getting himself sent off only made a bad situation even worse. I'm sorry to say that in my view he let himself and his team mates down, his behaviour in the heat of the moment was disappointing. No matter how bad or wrong the referee's decision is, players should try to keep their discipline and not give any referee an excuse to send them off.

Albion now need to bouce back this weekend when struggling Coventry City visit the Amex. Sadly manager Gus Poyet now has one less player that he can call upon as he tries to rally the troops.

Mauricio Taricco and Gus Poyet

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