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Saints slip to Brighton draw

Southampton let a one goal lead slip to draw away to Brighton

Brighton and Hove Albion v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images

Southampton drew away to Brighton this afternoon, after leading one-nil at half time.
Glenn Murray’s header early in the second half earned the Seagulls their share of the spoils, with Saints blowing a positive first 45 minutes.

Captain Steven Davis put Saints ahead early, heading in James Ward-Prowse’s free kick, and the visitors looked like they would cruise to an easy win. Yet in true Southampton fashion, they undid their good work with poor defending - with Fraser Forster again culpable and the defenders punished for failing to clear their lines.

Saints started positively, and were ahead just six minutes in thanks to Davis’ stooping header. Sofiane Boufal earned a sixth minute free kick 25 yards out off Dale Stephens, which Ward-Prowse curled onto the bar. Captain Davis was first to react, controlling his close-range header well to put his side one-nil up.

Brighton and Hove Albion v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images

Brighton immediately started to dominate the ball at home, pushing the visitors back into their own half. Anthony Knockaert’s left-footed free kick from deep was met by Davy Propper’s header 20 minutes in, but went straight into Forster’s hands. The English stopper then hit a poor clearance straight back to Brighton but was not punished with the home team flashing a poor, aimless ball across the box.

Southampton then enjoyed a period of possession, with Boufal collecting Oriol Romeu’s clever pass, feeding Dusan Tadic in the box with a cute cutback and the Serb’s shot deflecting behind for a corner.

The Seagulls threatened just before the break, with Southampton failing to clear the ball away three times, something that has plagued Mauricio Pellegrino’s side recently. Knockaert flashed a cross across the box, before Shane Duffy then competed well with Virgil van Dijk in the air but couldn’t keep his header down.

Saints emerged from the break on the front foot, pressing the opposition and imposing themselves on the game. Lewis Dunk headed another Ward-Prowse free kick behind and Tadic nearly found himself in on goal with Brighton on the back foot.

Then Southampton fell apart, with defensive issues rearing their ugly head again. Romeu and Wesley Hoedt failed to clear the ball, which fell to an unmarked Pascal Gross on the right wing with Bertrand up the field. His cross to the far post found Murray with Cedric, and it was no contest for the veteran forward. His header was accurate, but slow; luckily for him Forster was slower still in moving his feet and could not keep the ball out of the net. Another day, another goalkeeping error from the former England goalkeeper, who looks a shadow of his former self.

From there on in, Saints’ confidence collapsed with Brighton buoyant where they had previously been timid.

Van Dijk did well to block Murray’s shot an hour in, taking a powerful blow into his chest as Brighton, urged on by the crowd, grew into the game. Saints grew sloppy as the afternoon wore on, with Duffy wasting a good chance with twenty minutes to go, slashing Knockaert’s cutback well wide.

Southampton offered so little after the equaliser, demonstrating how fragile their mindset is currently. Manolo Gabbiadini cut a lonely figure throughout, with his only second half moment in front of goal coming after he was fed by in Bertrand down the left wing. The Italian collected the left back’s pass following a run to the near post, with his shot deflecting off Dunk behind for a corner.

Set plays aside, Saints again lacked creativity with neither goalie having much to do all day of note. Having played ten league games, Southampton are still to hit their stride and have not earned the amount of points that they should have, given the opposition they have faced so far this term.

After a home match to Burnley next weekend, Southampton face Everton, Liverpool and Man City before a busy Christmas period. Pellegrino will need his team to take something from those games, with fans struggling to see much of an impact following his replacing of Claude Puel in the summer.

Brighton: Ryan; Bruno (c), Bong, Duffy, Dunk; Knockaert, Propper, Gross (Brown 84); Izquierdo (March 87), Murray.

Subs: Krul, Hemed, Goldson, March, Schelotto, Sutter, Brown.

Saints: Forster; Cedric, van Dijk, Hoedt, Bertrand; Romeu, Davis (c); Tadic (Hojbjerg 84), Ward-Prowse (Long 84), Boufal (Redmond 72); Gabbiadini.

Subs: McCarthy, Yoshida, Stephens, Long, Redmond, Hojbjerg, McQueen.