31/07/2014: Brighton 1-3 Saints
Saints kept up their 100% pre-season record with another impressive display at Brighton. Victor Wanyama came back into the side following the completion of his international commitments. He started very deep, almost just in front of the central defensive partnership of Jose Fonte and Maya Yoshida, which allowed full-backs Nathaniel Clyne and Ryan Bertrand to push-on to a greater degree.
The first 15 minutes were fairly even and uneventful. Brighton hit a free-kick straight at Boruc on 13, but the visitors soon took over. Graziano Pelle slid in for Clyne's cross on 17, but couldn't quite make a connection. A few moments later Dusan Tadic picked up Fonte's low pass, turned on the edge of the box, before firing low into the corner of the net for 1-0.
On 26 Steven Davis had a low drive saved from Lloyd Isgrove's pullback, following some good build-up play. Saints employed a slightly more patient approach to the one used at Bournemouth, but nevertheless still succeeded in producing some good effective football. Davis fired in from close range for 2-0 on 43 after Pelle's initial effort had been blocked.
Brighton saw a bit more of the ball early in the 2nd half, but Saints were still very effective on the break. Davis struck a volley straight at the keeper from distance on 61. Ward-Prowse made it 3-0 a minute later. The midfielder intercepted the ball outside the area after Brighton had attempted to play their way away from danger, before shooting straight into the corner of the net.
Brighton pulled one back on 74 when Kelvin Davis gifted the ball to Kazenga Lua Lua. Pelle could have restored Saints' three goal cushion a few minutes later when he gently nodded Tadic's cross past the post. Yoshida had half a chance from a set piece on 84. Saints also had a decent shout for a penalty late on when Clyne appeared to be bundled over in the box.
For all the doom and gloom surrounding the club at the moment, Saints proved at Brighton that there is still plenty of quality in the ranks. The opposition were admittedly poor, and you'd expect Koeman's squad to look decidedly different by September 1st, but a lot of the principles that led us to success last season look to have been kept in-tact. If nothing else it looks as if we're going to at least try and play the most attractive football possible.
Boruc: One iffy throw, but otherwise didn't have a lot to do
Clyne: More trademark runs and quality crossing. Another good showing
Fonte: Always looking to bring the ball out from the back. Not really tested defensively
Yoshida: Looked a bit awkward on the ball at times, but a few good interceptions
Bertrand: Solid first 45 minutes in a Saints shirt. Didn't have a lot to do in his own half, but comfortable on the ball and decent going forward
Wanyama: Just feeling his way back in
S Davis: One of the best players on the pitch. Quick feet led to several openings
Ward-Prowse: A dynamic display. Plenty of energy, with a strong contribution all over the pitch
Tadic: Footwork not too dissimilar to that of the man he was signed to replace
Isgrove: Some good bursts of pace throughout the match. Has put himself in contention for a permanent spot in the first team
Pelle: A few good touches, but largely disappointing. Fluffed a few chances and never looked completely at ease with the ball at his feet
K Davis: Mistake led to the Brighton goal. Otherwise didn't really have anything to do
Targett: Pressed a bit more eagerly. More confident going forward and strong in the tackle
Cork: Pretty standard performance
Stephens: Got a few good touches in at the end
Brighton - Lua Lua (74)
Saints - Tadic (20) S Davis (43) Ward-Prowse (62)
Attendance: 7,296 (870 Saints fans)
Referee: Tim Robinson
Brighton: Stockdale, Calderon (Saltor 46), Greer (c) (Dunk 46), Hughes, Chicksen (Maksimenko 79), Ince (Toko 79), Crofts (Agustien 63), Forster-Caskey, Fenelon (Lua Lua 46), March (Buckley 63), O’Grady (Mackail-Smith 46)
Subs not used: Ankergren
Saints: Boruc (K Davis 46), Clyne, Fonte (Stephens 90), Yoshida, Bertrand (Targett 46), Wanyama (Cork 65), Ward-Prowse, S Davis, Tadic, Isgrove, Pelle
Subs not used: Hooiveld, Flannigan, McQueen, Reed, Mayuka