Football Features

Southampton 1-1 Crystal Palace: injury-hit Eagles slow Hasenhuttl’s revival

By Ollie Thomas

Published: 17:46, 28 December 2019 | Updated: 14:13, 12 February 2020

Southampton and Crystal Palace both had to settle for a point at St. Mary’s as a calamitous Martin Kelly backpass gifted Danny Ings a late equaliser for the Saints.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side had bearly tested Palace (they hadn’t registered a shot on target) before Martin Kelly inexplicably put Danny Ings through on goal to calmly slot past Vicente Guaita. The mistake seemed to kick the Saints into life, who suddenly began to dominate – Palace had their ‘keeper to thank for salvaging a draw, who made a string of impressive saves in the final 20 minutes.

Roy Hodgson’s side had been the better side for the first hour, having a goal disallowed for the finest of offsides before James Tomkins powered in a clever Luka Milivojevic free-kick. Despite the totally avoidable manner of Southampton’s equaliser, Palace will be satisfied with a hard-earned point.

Southampton’s revival goes on

Following a 2-1 defeat at home to Everton, Southampton were sat on eight points from 12 games with the possibility of relegation seeming very real. However, a point away at Arsenal signalled the start of a remarkable turnaround for Hasenhuttl’s men. Four wins from six games before today means they are out of the bottom three and well on their way to securing another season in the top-flight.

This revival is largely down to Danny Ings. The striker moved to the south coast in the summer and has already repaid the £20 million that the club splashed on him: only Jamie Vardy has scored more goals in the Premier League this season than Ings, who has bagged eight goals in his last eight starts.

He added to that tally today after Martin Kelly’s perfectly weighted through ball (to the wrong team) sent Ings in on goal and, in the form he’s in, he was never going to miss. James Ward-Prowse and Moussa Djenepo both tested Vicente Guaita late on as they pushed for all three points, but Hasenhuttl will be satisfied with yet another points towards Southampton’s survival bid.

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Injury-ravaged Palace continue to pick up points

£2.5 million spent in the summer, a £50 million player not replaced, seven players unavailable and three more playing through injury at one time – Palace’s second half of 2019 would have been enough for many teams to be consigned to a relegation battle at best. However, Roy Hodgson’s side are tough.

The only side that Palace have lost to who are not currently in the top seven are Newcastle Utd, a game which, really, they should have won. It was Sam Allardyce who coined the phrase ‘respect the point’ at Palace – a quote which became something of a catchphrase during his time at the club. And that is something Palace fans must remember to do: if you can’t win, don’t lose. Hodgson seems to have mastered that art.

Granted, the ex-England boss will be frustrated given the manner of Southampton’s goal but, all things considered, it’s a good point for Palace. Besides, they started the game with a centre-back at right-back, a holding-midfielder at left-back and a central-midfielder on the wing. Had it not been for a classic VAR offside call on Zaha’s armpit in the first-half, the Eagles could well have left with three points.

With no specialist full-backs and one specialist winger available to Hodgson, one must applaud Palace’s efforts: not only does this leave them unbalanced, but it also means that all 13 players involved today played against West Ham on Thursday. Having such a thin squad is difficult at the best of times but, over the festive period, it is especially challenging.

So, despite not playing the most scintillating football, or having masses of quality at their disposal, Palace find themselves in the top half and just two points off a European spot heading into the new year. A very good effort indeed.