Dan Jarvis fills us in on his visit to the Black Country, Saints’ rolling over to Chelsea, as if they were a puppy wanting a tummy rub, and also how happy he is to see the women’s team back up and running..
Having never visited before, Molineux was a breath of fresh air, a stadium with real character and a sense of history making it stand out from the crowd of today’s homogenous, soulless bowls.
We arrived in Wolverhampton a couple of hours before kick off, parking about a five-minute walk from the ground . As we drive to the majority of away fixtures, Dad’s disabled badge has been a godsend over the years, allowing us to park the car anywhere and everywhere.
During away days, Dad regularly borrows a radio from the home club, a very useful tool to help him to follow the game, however painfully biased the commentary may be. I use levelplayingfield.co.uk to get contact details for the club we are visiting to place our requests so that everything is in place for Dad come kick off. It is a wonderful resource.
As for the match, I imagine it would have been rather enjoyable for the neutral, but as a Saints supporter it was ultimately disappointing. We played well in spells but unfortunately buckled in the dying embers of the contest. The match could, and probably should, have been settled long beforehand but we were left to rue missed chances once more.
Sticking with the first team, the following weekend saw the visit of Chelsea. Historically our record when televised has been woeful, not that this loss can be attributed to any kind of hex. Personally for Dad and I, the day started well. We have this superstition around Saints and how it’s all going to unfold and the signs were positive initially, sailing through effortlessly on the journey from Salisbury to Southampton Central Station, arriving to discover that one of two disabled parking bays were free also, often a rarity. Sadly, though, none of this has anything to do with football.
In my opinion we paid the visitors far too much respect from the get-go. Admittedly, Chelsea are a side littered with quality throughout but you have to be careful, however, to stand off completely and concede possession for long periods. This is unacceptable as a home team. When Saints applied some pressure, the momentum switched and you could feel the crowd being lifted, finally having something to be encouraged about, and no doubt this positively impacts the team. I went into the fixture not hoping for too much points wise, and both needless errors and a lack of a clinical edge will always prove fatal against a team with such talent. However, I’d like to see the team perform less gutlessly and enter the game with a more ambitious mindset, regardless of the opposition.
After a solid start without tasting defeat, the under 23s have experienced a more indifferent time of recent. After a disappointing 2-0 reverse at Reading, the young Saints prevailed against Leeds in the Premier League Cup, a 2-1 win sealed by a Calum Slattery penalty. The competition will bring back fond memories for many as the title was won by a side featuring the likes of Harrison Reed and Sam Gallagher, defeating Blackburn Rovers in extra time of the second leg at St. Mary’s, back in 2015. However, this change in fortune was short lived, having been humbled 4-0 by Cambridge United in the Checkatrade Trophy this past week. The much maligned competition, formerly the Football League trophy, disliked by many lower-league football supporters due to the recent inclusion of Premier League reserve sides, provides a good opportunity for youth players to pit their wits against more experienced veterans. That being said, with results like this, you are left pondering whether such outcomes may have an adverse effect on the squad’s future performances in other competitions.
Last but certainly not least, I’d like to touch upon our recently re-established women’s side. Sadly ties were cut as a cost-cutting measure having been relegated from the Premier League in 2005, but with the club now back in the upper echelons of English football, it’s fantastic to see this reintroduction, especially at a time when the women’s game is going from strength to strength. Beginning their SSE Women’s FA Cup journey with a trip to Winchester Flyers, the red and whites chalked up a 2-0 victory, before trouncing Larkhall Athletic 4-1 in the first round proper, a landmark first home fixture since reformation. Certainly a brilliant start and under the stewardship of former England international Marieanne Spacey-Cale, the future looks very bright. I wish our ladies the very best going forward and with the club promoting a fantastic initiative, free entry to all season ticket holders at the last cup game at AFC Totton’s Testwood Stadium, there’s never been a better time to offer support as the team look to rise to prominence.
With no fixture this weekend due to the international break, it’s safe to say it’ll be a lot more stress free than usual so until next time.. the ‘not a South Coast derby’ at Bournemouth. COYR