There will be a profound sigh of relief around Southampton this week as Sofiane Boufal’s late wonder-goal took Tony Pulis’ side to now having just two wins in 18 matches, as their encounter versus West Bromwich Albion finished 1-0 in favour of Mauricio Pelligrino’s side.
The game got off to a fast start as Gareth Barry rifled an early shot into the side netting and Southampton were playing with an obvious intent to score goals, on the back of Gabiadinni’s brace last Sunday.
The majority of the play was going Southampton’s way however, getting past West Brom’s tight defence seemed to be a challenge for Pellegrino’s side. The closest effort in the first half was awarded to Ryan Bertrand, whose 25 yard free kick rattled the post after taking a slight deflection off Jonny Evans.
The next good chance for Saints fell to Dusan Tadic, with a great opportunity from 10 yards but his left footed strike was directed straight down Foster’s throat. West Brom had been quiet on the attacking front, potentially waiting for a counter attack as Southampton’s pressure was continuous.
The Baggies lost Jonny Evans, in the 32nd minute, to an injury he picked up earlier in the game, giving way to Allan Nyom. There could have been two penalties within the space of 10 minutes, one at either end of the pitch. “Handballs” from Rondon and Tadic, both from set plays.
To have given the penalties would have been a harsh decision, but that’s not to say that on another day they wouldn’t have been given. The game entered half time at 0-0. West Brom continued their effective defensive tactics into the second half however, Saints look determined to break through the back line as the pressure they were applying was reflective of the pressure in the first half.
Up until the last ten minutes, the second half was a rather dull one for the neutral fans, not that many neutral fans would be watching Southampton vs West Brom anyway. Both teams looked set on breaking the deadlock in the last ten minutes as efforts from Nathan Redmond and Jay Rodriguez gave foundations of hope for both sides. Sofiane Boufal replaced Tadic and Charlie Austin on for Shane Long who has now gone 26 games for club and country without scoring.Embed from Getty Images
Boufal makes an almost immediate impact picking the ball up inside his own half and running at the defence. his quick feet and pace allow him to make a mockery of the West Brom defenders as he calmly slots the ball into the bottom right hand corner from just inside the box.
Arguably a contender for goal of the season. 1-0 This left little time for The Baggies to bag an equaliser, but four minutes of injury time was not enough for Tony Pulis’ men.
Is this the match that finally brings a spring to the step of the Southampton players? Despite their relatively poor start to the season, the Saints still sit 10th in the Premier League table, which can only be seen as a foundation to build upon by Pellegrino.
Only three places below, but hovering only 2 points above the relegation zone, West Brom are struggling to find their form. Tony Pulis has an incredible consistency when it comes to Premier League finishes, so we can only expect an improvement from his side.
Written by Niall Henry.