Managers describe pre-season as more about giving players the opportunity to hit the ground running on the opening day of the season rather than individual results.
This is good because a record of P: 10 W: 4 D: 1 L: 5 F: 14 A: 17 is a long way from the figures that Alan Pardew will want shown against Southampton’s league table record after ten matches this season.
The match element of pre-season started in earnest the day before Spain won the right to look after the World Cup for the next four years when a youthful looking Saints side visited Winchester City and won 4-1. A similar looking starting eleven was then defeated by the odd goal in three at Havant and Waterlooville three days later.
While the so called second string were travelling around Hampshire, the first team were increasing their fitness levels in a training camp in Switzerland.
Whilst there they played matches against Swiss Super League side FC Thun then FC Sochaux of the French Ligue 1. They lost the first of these 4-2 with Dean Hammond and Jose Fonte scoring consolation goals in the last ten minutes. In the second match they did not trouble the scorers in losing by two goals.
On the same day as the match against FC Sochaux, those remaining at home played at Basingstoke Town under the guidance of new Under 21 development coach Martin Hunter. This match saw the return to Saints colours of goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski as confidence grew that the signing of a new contract was getting closer. The result was a 2-1 defeat.
The second win of pre-season came as Southampton embarked upon a three match unbeaten run at Farnborough where Lee Barnard opened his scoring account. Three days later Rickie Lambert did the same in a 1-1 draw at Sutton United. Barnet was the destination for the final game of this group of three where a Joseph Mills goal secured a 1-0 win.
The solitary home game of the campaign saw a Saints side without the injured quartet of Morgan Schneiderlin, Adam Lallana, Jason Puncheon and Rickie Lambert.
The final result of a 4-2 loss masks the fact that Southampton were winning 2-1 at 60 minutes thanks to goals from Hammond and Barnard.
It was then down to the younger element of the squad to complete the programme with a 1-0 win at Eastleigh where former Spitfires player Aaron Martin was the Saints captain for the evening.
Overall, whilst this type of pre-season certainly lacks the glamour that American or Far Eastern tours bring, promotion from League One will demand more quiet efficiency than glitz so all those heading for the Red and White areas of St Marys on Saturday will hope that by then the ground is ready to be hit.
*Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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