Report: Saints all-square with Fulham

By SFC Media time Sat 24 Jul First team
Photo by Matt Watson

The rundown of what happened when Southampton drew 1-1 with Championship outfit Fulham in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Staplewood Campus on Saturday.

FIRST HALF

Team: McCarthy (GK); Walker-Peters, Stephens, Salisu, Perraud; Romeu, Ward-Prowse ©; Walcott, Elyounoussi; Tella, Adams.

Lining up in the Ralph Hasenhüttl’s trademark 4-2-2-2 formation, Saints took charge of the opening exchanges and went close within the opening five minutes.

Clever play from Ché Adams saw him reverse the ball into Theo Walcott in the box, with the attacker’s dinked finish pushed around the post by Fabricio Agosto Ramírez.

From the resulting corner Jack Stephens almost converted at the back post, before chances dried up as the quarter-of-an-hour mark came and went.

With opportunities remaining at a premium, Nathan Tella almost engineered one of his own when pressing Ramírez, only for the Fulham goalkeeper to narrowly clear his lines with the Saints striker bearing down on 22 minutes.

Summer signing Romain Perraud displayed his defensive awareness with a number of important covering interceptions, as the visitors found some joy down the left with the combination of Antonee Robinson and Neeskens Kebano.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 24: Che Adams(L) of during a pre-season friendly match between Southampton FC and Fulham at The Staplewood Campus on July 24, 2021 in Southampton, England. Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images
Ché Adams goes for goal in the first half. (Photo: Matt Watson)

Remaining goalless, Hasenhüttl’s side pressed for an opener with a prolonged spell of possession, and after Adams dragged a shot wide of the target, Saints registered their best chance of the half with 38 minutes played.

After neat link up between Walcott and Kyle Walker-Peters down the right flank, James Ward-Prowse delivered an inch-perfect deep cross onto the head of Tella, whose looping attempt was acrobatically tipped over by Ramírez.

Keeping up the intensity, the assault continued until the halfway stage, but The Cottagers rode the storm to head in goalless.

SECOND HALF

Team: Forster (GK); Valery, Bednarek, Salisu (Olufunwa 77’), Djenepo; Diallo, Armstrong; Obafemi, Redmond; Long, Ings (c).

The second 45 saw wholesale changes with only Mohammed Salisu remaining from the initial line-up, as Moussa Djenepo and Michael Obafemi began in slightly unfamiliar roles at left-back and as one of the two number 10s respectively.

However, the latter immediately settled into the role and assisted the game’s opener on 47 minutes, squaring for Shane Long who was perfectly placed to tap in from six yards.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 24: Southampton players gather after Shane Long opens the scoring during a pre-season friendly match between Southampton FC and Fulham at The Staplewood Campus on July 24, 2021 in Southampton, England. Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images
The Saints players celebrate Shane Long's goal. (Photo: Matt Watson)

Maintaining the momentum built before the break, Saints continued to boss both territory and possession after taking the lead, as a mazey Djenepo run deep into the box ended with a wayward strike before the Malian saw a shot from an acute angle deflected into the side netting on the hour-mark.

At the heart of the action, Djenepo was on the defensive moments later as André-Frank Zambo Anguissa burst into the box, with his point-blank effort superbly blocked away by the out-stretched arm of Fraser Forster, as Fulham threatened for virtually the first time in the match.

Responding at the other end, Danny Ings and Shane Long demonstrated their understanding as the former lofted a ball over the top for the latter to run onto, but after rounding an advanced Ramírez, Tim Ream was perfectly placed to clear Long’s goal bound effort away.

Working the ball nicely in the final third, Yan Valery almost rounded off a flowing move when his low shot was saved, before Marco Silva’s side were handed a lifeline on 79 minutes.

Awarded a penalty when Anthony Knockaert was upended by Djenepo, Kebano stepped up to emphatically pick out the bottom corner and register an unlikely equaliser.

Ending the match in the ascendancy, Fulham almost stole victory in the closing stages, only for a full-stretch Forster stop to deny Anguissa and draw a close to Southampton's opening pre-season workout. 

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