No.40 - Sat 11th April 2015; Premier League;                                                   3pm at St Marys Stadium, Britannia Road, Southampton, Hants, SO14 5PF 

 

Matchday images (45) https://picasaweb.google.com/footballgroundsinfocus/SouthamptonFC04

Southampton (0) 2  Hull City (0) 0

'Tigers pay penalty'

'With the end of the season fast approaching The Tigers are facing a real battle for Premier League survival. With a really difficult run in (on paper at least), picking up points looks a tall order as Hull City fight for their lives to avoid relegation back into the Football League after only two years in the top flight. Today weíre making the long trip down to the south coast hoping that our team can put in a decent performance and pick up a point against Ronald Koemanís high-flying Southampton. 

After a pretty even first half thereís really very little to choose between both sides, each having a couple of shots on target. Visiting fans breathe a sigh of relief moments after the start when a misunderstanding between defender James Chester and stand in keeper Steve Harper allows Saints striker (and ex Tiger) Shane Long a clear chance to score but he cannot take advantage of the mix up and scuffs his shot wide when clean through on goal. Phew! The deadlock is finally broken ten minutes after the break when James Ward-Prowse converts a penalty following a clumsy tackle by Alex Bruce to take the lead. The visitors are shaken and itís an uphill struggle to regain composure and get back into the game.

 

The points are won ten minutes from the end when Manuel Pelle completes a delightful five man move to drill the ball home from six yards out to make it 2-0. The result is well received by an appreciative home crowd who have their sights on a possible Europa League football place next season. For Steve Bruceís Hull the task to beat the drop now looks even harder especially with matches against the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool to follow in the coming weeks. It was clear from todayís match that the Premier League is unforgiving - Itís a fine line between success and failure. I can say on behalf of all fans of clubs at the bottom of the table that itís the living in hope (not results) that cause the greatest anxiety. Thereís certainly no room for error.  

 

The match which attracts just over 30000 is played on (as expected) a beautifully manicured pitch in sunny and at times cloudy conditions. An oversized (A4) 84 page programmes is issued for the game, priced £4. A free copy of the club foundation magazine Inspired is also included inside. As always an array of refreshments is available from the many outlets situated both outside and within the concourses of the ground. To save money we brought our own from home!

 

So whatís the ground like? The club moved from The Dell to the new St Mary's Stadium in 2001. In some ways this saw the Club returning to its roots as it was originally founded as 'Southampton St Marys', hence the club nickname 'The Saints'. To be truthful the stadium looks, quite simply, superb. The stadium is completely enclosed, with all corners being filled with seating. There are also two great looking screens sitting on the roofs at each end. Running around three sides of the stadium, just below the roof, is a transparent perspex strip allows more light and facilitates pitch growth. On the remaining side there is a row of executive boxes. The crowd are set well back from the playing action, as firstly there is a cinder track surrounding the playing surface and secondly the pitch itself must be the largest in the League (although the playing area does not use all of it). Outside the stadium behind the Itchen Stand is a statue of former Southampton legend Ted Bates. The home fans definitely get behind their club and create a superb atmosphere throughout the game.      

 

Travelling fans attending St Maryís will find that car parking at the ground is very limited and should look for a better alternative. After following the M3 we joined the M27 East (towards Portsmouth) coming off at junction 8. We continued along A3025 road (passing Wessex League side Sholing Sports FC en route) before stopping in the suburb of Woolston which is to the south of the Itchen Bridge. A public car park (free for first 5 hours) can be found on Oakbank Road at the junction of Bridge Road. As you approach the bridge along the A3025 there is a roundabout at the entrance to the toll booths, take first exit left onto Portsmouth Road down to the traffic lights, turn right into Bridge Road and the car park is immediately on the left. We made the 15-20 minute walk from there to the ground by going over the Itchen toll Bridge. A flight of steps which take you up onto Itchen Bridge and St Marys is visible across the river to the right. Itís a terrific view.

 

Despite the result we thoroughly enjoyed our day out on the south coast. It goes without saying that a visit to St Marys comes highly recommended. For more information on the club and the ground can I direct to Duncan Adams excellent website The Football Ground Guide which covers every aspect (including reviews) you would look for in planning your day out. The joys of hopping in the big league continue (just). Have fun wherever you go!'.     

FGIF Match Stats

                Scorers: (H) Ward-Prowse (pen 56), Pelle (81) and (A) N/A  

Attendance: 30359; Admission: £32; Programme: £3; Match rating: 3/5; Ground rating: 5/5.

Links

http://www.saintsfc.co.uk/

http://www.premierleague.com/en-gb.html

http://www.footballgroundguide.com/leagues/england/premier-league/st-marys-stadium-southampton-fc.html

edited on 12/04/15