Southampton 0 West Ham 0 match report: Sam Allardyce’s master plan inspires Jussi Jaaskelainen to frustrate toiling Saints

 

St Mary’s Stadium

Goals are exciting, of course, but there are other satisfactions to be derived from football and West Ham United can be rightly proud of an impressive afternoon’s work in Southampton.

This was a particularly goalless 0-0 draw, not desperately memorable, and will not be sold as a DVD in either clubs’ shop any time soon. But Sam Allardyce was justified in being as pleased as he was. He designed the right game plan and his West Ham players executed it perfectly. What more can be asked than that?

The basis for Allardyce’s approach is to keep clean sheets. “Every time you don’t concede a goal you know you’ve got a point at least,” as he said last year. This was West Ham’s third shutout from four league games this season, and it was hardly ever in doubt. They are a team very well  designed to stop the opposition from scoring – with a rigid shape, a hard-working midfield and reliable experienced players in goal and at centre-back. It all came together  yesterday in a near-perfect display of defensive austerity.

That, in essence, was the difference between the two sides yesterday. This is Allardyce’s third season in charge and the team are playing almost exactly as he would want them to. Mauricio Pochettino, though, has been the manager at Southampton for only eight months and, after a summer of new signings, he is still working to blend his mixture of youngsters and imports into a coherent team.

When that happens, though, Southampton will be a very exciting side. They played with four attacking players yesterday – Jay Rodriguez, Dani Osvaldo, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert – ahead of their midfield engines, Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama. Osvaldo, for whom Saints paid Roma £12.8m, was the most gifted and  imaginative of the four but he is clearly still learning about the English game and his team-mates.

The Italian (below), who started playing behind Lambert but moved across the front line, had Saints’ only good chance of the first-half. After 11 minutes, Rodriguez burst past Guy Demel on the left wing and cut the ball back to Osvaldo, loitering with intent around the penalty spot, only for his shot to go within reach of Jussi Jaaskelainen.

It was the first of Jaaskelainen’s many excellent saves, and he was – along with Winston Reid and James Collins – among the best players on the pitch. Those two centre-backs were almost faultless throughout, barring one understandable slip from Collins on the sodden turf late in the first half. Osvaldo darted forward but Reid, helping out his partner, cleared the danger. There are not many safer pairs in the league.

West Ham would have been the happier team at half-time, and it could have been even better had Matt Jarvis not been flagged offside seconds before Kevin Nolan put the ball into the net.

In the second half, though, Southampton started to play faster and smarter, creating chances that Jaaskelainen needed to save. He tipped over Wanyama’s shot from  distance before Lambert headed the resultant corner against the top of the near post. Jaaskelainen then rushed off his line to deny Lallana, put through by Osvaldo, before making two brilliant diving saves to his left later in the second half.

The first came after Southampton’s best passing move, which went through Schneiderlin, Lallana and Rodriguez before Schneiderlin volleyed towards the bottom corner. The second, a few minutes later, was when Rodriguez drove down the middle and fed Lambert on his left, who curled the ball towards the far top corner.

It was a fairly difficult afternoon for the England forward, who has scored just one goal – that from a penalty – in four club games this season. “Strikers need to score goals,” commented Pochettino afterwards, “that is their bread and butter, and he hasn’t been able to do that, but none of them were able to do that. So I am frustrated.”

The game grew feistier, if not more dramatic, as it went on and in the second half there were a few tackles that might be generously described as overenthusiastic. Wanyama was booked for a late tackle on Ravel Morrison, who was smart and sharp in midfield on his first ever Premier League start. Joey O’Brien received the same punishment for a worse foul, from behind on Lallana. And Schneiderlin might have been sent off for a two-footed lunge on Mohamed Diamé.

“We are disappointed that Schneiderlin is still on the pitch,” Allardyce said. “It is a two-footed challenge which we are told by everyone in the referees’ department is a straight red. It was a really poor decision.”

Had Schneiderlin been sent off West Ham might have created more, but they made only one good chance and it fell to the worst possible person. Their problem was that, without the injured Andy Carroll, they have no  alternative threat up front and Modibo Maiga barely touched the ball in his 68 minutes before he was replaced by Ricardo Vaz Te.

With six minutes left Vaz Te won a corner – in itself more of a contribution than Maiga made – the ball was not cleared and it fell to Mark Noble. He darted down the right, got to the byline and pulled the ball back into the box. But it fell to Collins, not a  renowned goalscorer, and the centre-half skewed the ball far over the  bar. Everything else had gone  to Allardyce’s plan, but this one  did not.

Match facts

Southampton: BORUC 6/10; CLYNE 7; FONTE 6; LOVREN 6; SHAW 7; LALLANA 5; WANYAMA 5; SCHNEIDERLIN 6; RODRIGUEZ 5; LAMBERT 5; OSVALDO 6

West Ham: JAASKELAINEN 8; O’BRIEN 5; COLLINS 7; REID 8; DEMEL 5; JARVIS 5; NOLAN 6; NOBLE 7; MORRISON 6; DIAME 7; MAIGA 3

Subs: Southampton Ward-Prowse (Lallana, 72), Chambers (Shaw, 77). West Ham Rat 6 (Demel, 61), Vaz Te 6 (Maiga, 68), Taylor (Morrison, 77).

Booked: Southampton Wanyama. West Ham Diame, Noble, O’Brien.

Man of the match Reid. Match rating 4/10.

Possession: Southampton 59%. West Ham 41%.

Attempts on target: Southampton 5 West Ham 1.

Referee A Marriner (West Midlands). Att 28,794.

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
News
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
Sport
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
peopleCareer spanned 70 years, including work with Holocaust survivors
News
people
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape