14/01/2015: Ipswich 0-1 Saints
Saints progressed to the 4th round of the FA Cup with a 1-0 win at Ipswich. Ronald Koeman's men were in control for most of the game without really producing much in the way of entertaining attacking football.
Ipswich's passing was slightly crisper during the opening quarter. Saints made a slow start without really being tested at the back. Stephen Hunt had a goal correctly ruled out for offside. The only goal of the game came out of nowhere. Saints had been slow and predictable on the ball prior to Shane Long's strike. The goal itself was slightly fortuitous too. James Ward-Prowse was challenged in the area, with the ball falling to Long, who instinctively hooked it in at the near post.
Saints looked more settled in possession after the goal. Ward-Prowse clipped the bar after Victor Wanyama had brilliantly seen off the challenge of two Ipswich players. Ipswich didn't offer much of a threat with their direct approach. David McGoldrick shot wide of the near post just before half-time. Victor Wanyama went down with a hamstring injury just seconds before he was due to be replaced by Steven Davis at half-time.
Ipswich were briefly reinvigorated following the introduction of former Saints academy product Tyrone Mings. He provided a good cross for Darren Ambrose, who headed tamely at Fraser Forster. Ipswich rarely troubled Saints after that. The back three ate up all the long diagonal balls and set pieces. Saints stroked it about well in midfield at times, but the approach play in the final third was a bit lacklustre. Saints were playing within themselves slightly, but never looked like letting their lead slip. James Ward-Prowse tried to catch Bartosz Bialkowski out with a free-kick on the right late on, in what was a rare chance.
Not the best of games for the neutral, but a professional display from Saints nonetheless. There was only one goal in it, but at no point did it feel as if Saints were under threat. The only downer was the injury to Victor Wanyama, who joins Toby Alderweireld and Morgan Schneiderlin in the treatment room. All three are vitally important players of course, but it doesn't feel quite as disastrous as the December injury crisis. Florin Gardos has shown signs of improvement recently, while Saints still have decent options in midfield. Harrison Reed has proven to be a capable starter, and Jack Cork is a decent alternative to Wanyama.
Forster: 6. Distribution poor at times. No major saves to make once again
Gardos: 7. Tended to take the easy option when in possession early on, but more composed as his confidence grew. Solid in the air
Fonte: 7. A couple of good runs forward and comfortably defensively
Bertrand: 6. Filled in as the third centre back. Not really troubled by Ipswich's front line. Sensible in possession
Clyne: 7. Offered decent support going forward
Targett: 6. Looked a bit uneasy on the ball at first, but settled down eventually
Reed: 7. Did a decent job sitting in front of the back four. Passed the ball about well and tactically sound
Ward-Prowse: 6. Steady midfield display
Wanyama: 6. A few flashes of brilliance, but mostly a level below his usual standard before his unfortunate injury
Tadic: 7. A sublime first touch and some great skill
Long: 7. Excellent pressing rewarded with a goal
Davis: 6. Generally moved the ball well
Pelle: 5. Not involved too much
Saints - Long (19)
Attendance - 27,933 (1,126 Saints fans)
Referee: Graham Scott
Ipswich: Bialkowski, Parr, Berra, Chambers, Hunt (Mings 55), Bru, Hyam, Ambrose (Stewart 82), McGoldrick (Bajner 63), Murphy
Subs not used: Crowe, Clarke, Anderson, McQueen
Saints: Forster, Gardos, Fonte, Bertrand, Clyne, Targett, Reed, Ward-Prowse, Wanyama (S Davis 46), Tadic (Pelle 67), Long
Subs not used: K Davis, McCarthy, Cork, Hesketh, Isgrove