Match Report: Southampton 1-1 Cardiff City (Southampton Fan's Perspective)
Southampton closed down West Ham's lead to just 2 points after drawing 1-1 at St. Marys against Cardiff City. The Saints are now only two points behind leaders West Ham, who were comprehensively thrashed 5-1 by Ipswich Town.
The game was hard to get going, with Cardiff showing some promising signs early on. After that, Saints started to put more pressure on the Welsh side, with wingers Jason Puncheon and Adam Lallana looking promising. Rickie Lambert also started to join in, with his header going over the bar in the 12th minute.
Saints continued to put on the pressure but there willingness to shoot seem to have disappeared. Southampton had a strong claim for a penalty turned down. Rickie Lambert made a smart run in to Cardiff's penalty box, and was brought down to the ground, only for Referee Haywood to turn down the appeals.
It was shortly followed by "You don't know what your doing!" ringing around St. Mary's. Saints did look like the better side, but were then drawn a sucker punch when Peter Whittingam's in-swinging corner on the 35th minute wasn't cleared.
As a result, Craig Conway hit past Kelvin Davis' net to put the Bluebirds 1-0 up. There were strong appeals for a foul on Kelvin Davis', but referee Haywood ignored the appeals. The frustration was clear to see, Morgan Schneiderlin getting a yellow card.
The second-half started with the Saints fans getting behind their team an encouraging first-half. The fluidness to Saints' play seemed to be more evident. Saints were again denied another penalty, when Adam Lallana seemed to have been brought down in the box, but the linesman ruled it offside.
Saints fans were livid again. They still got behind the team though and their loyalty was rewarded when Haywood finally awarded the Saints a penalty after a handball in the 56th minute by Kevin McNaughton. Rickie Lambert added to his Championship tally shortly afterwards, coolly powering home the penalty past David Marshall's net.
60 minutes came along and it was the moment that every Saints fan had been waiting for. Saints fans were sent into a frenzy, excited by the prospect new signing, Tadanari Lee. The international, signed from Japanese side Sanfreece Hiroshima came on for the impressive Puncheon, who is one step closer to redeeming himself amongst the Saints fans.
Southampton continued to press and push, but seemed to be unable to break down a resilient Cardiff defence. Balls were flying in from everywhere looking for Lambert, but no luck. Lee tried his best and looked promising, putting pressure on the Cardiff centre-backs.
The passing brand that Southampton have made recently became more evident, with players linking up well with each other, but Cardiff's stubbornness to not lose was seen throughout. Saints fans were left urging there team to shoot instead of looking for a pass, but nothing was happening. In the end, both teams settled for a draw.
Saints will feel aggrieved to not to have won this and they had there chances to. For Cardiff, it was a great point which seems them lose no ground on the promotion race. Saints have a crucial game at Birmingham on Saturday. So do Cardiff, with a home tie against sixth placed Blackpool.
Final score: Southampton 1-1 Cardiff (Lambert 56) Conway (36)
Man of the match: Jason Puncheon
Coming from a Saints fan's view, Puncheon's first game back at St. Mary's was always going to be hard after the comments about Cortese on Twitter, and his bad performances at the start of last season.
But he proved us Saints fans wrong tonight. He played really well, worked hard and got stuck in. He looked like a bright spark and it was a bit of a shame to see him leave the pitch quite early for Lee. But a big well done to Puncheon, I hope to see more of the same!