May 19, 2024

Southampton lost 1-0 to Stoke City in their final home game of the regular Championship season.

The game was practically pointless in terms of Southampton’s league status, whilst Stoke’s three points ensured they survived relegation to League One.

Russell Martin’s side suffered its third loss in a week, capping off a disastrous campaign.

A place in the play-offs is certain, and all eyes appear to be on the post-season contests, but Southampton may suffer from a loss of momentum ahead of such critical games.

Against Stoke, the south coast team appeared indifferent and struggled to enthral spectators, losing to a Tyrese Campbell goal in the 36th minute after poor defending by Taylor Harwood-Bellis.

After the game, Martin highlighted what he felt hurt his team in the dreary St Mary’s match.

 

Southampton FC's 1-0 defeat to Stoke City - in pictures | Daily Echo

Russell Martin identifies key reason for Stoke loss

Southampton rarely used a glove on their opponents during the encounter.
Despite having 65% possession, the home team only had three shots on target, while Stoke had eight.

Following the defeat, Martin told Southampton’s official club website: “The last week’s been really tough, I know I’m not talking about today’s performance yet, but it’s been a really tough week.”

The 38-year-old boss went on to clarify what he believed was the cause of the setback, saying: “Stoke were good, more aggressive than us in the first half, and that’s what cost us.”

“We were a goal behind, and we had several huge chances; they had a few great chances, too many. But in transition when you try and chase being a goal behind you leave yourself open sometimes.”

For a team attempting to gain promotion to the Premier League through the play-offs, saying your team wasn’t aggressive enough is a severe indictment.

Perhaps this is simply a reflection of what was on the line for each team, with Stoke fighting for survival and Southampton hobbling into the play-offs, but Martin cannot be pleased with his team’s lack of fight.

Southampton fringe players show Martin they aren’t ready

Following the 5-0 defeat to Leicester, Martin opted to change things up for the visit of Stoke.

The assault at the King Power was a rude awakening for the Saints, and a response was required.

A number of regulars were benched for Saturday’s encounter, giving players who had recently been on the outskirts a chance to impress.

However, it was not one that they took.

Shea Charles started instead of Flynn Downes and was replaced at halftime.

David Brooks has now started five games in a straight, but was switched to center for this game as Martin considers his options with Stuart Armstrong out.

It didn’t work, as the Bournemouth loanee underperformed in a position where he was expected to thrive.

Sekou Mara replaced Che Adams up front and managed only five passes in 63 minutes, demonstrating that he is far from ready to step into the Scotland international’s shoes.

The lone player to grab their opportunity was 21-year-old Samuel Edozie, who provided a bright spark in an otherwise gloomy performance.

Overall, the Stoke game demonstrated to Martin that his fringe players are not prepared to establish a strong claim to start in the upcoming play-off matches.

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