Fraser seals stoppage-time win for Southampton

4 November 2023 0 By Total Football News

Ryan Fraser’s stoppage-time goal extended Southampton’s unbeaten run to seven matches as they defeated a spirited Millwall 1-0 at The Den.

The Lions had been indebted to their goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski, whose heroics looked to have earned them a point in SE16.

But substitute Fraser sent the 3,031 travelling fans into raptures with a late clincher – meaning Russell Martin’s side have taken 17 points from a possible 21.

Fraser’s other goal for Southampton was also a late winner – at Hull on October 21 – while Saints also snatched a point against Preston in added time.

Millwall’s main threat in the opening 45 minutes came from George Saville’s corners and they hit the crossbar from one of them. Jake Cooper nodded Saville’s delivery back across goal and Wes Harding, who had scored in the last two matches, saw his header come back off the woodwork.

Southampton, though, controlled the possession and forced Bialkowski into a number of saves in the first period.

First the Polish goalkeeper tipped over Stuart Armstrong’s shot in the 20th minute, the first notable attempt in the match, and he also pushed away full-blooded strikes by Carlos Alcaraz and Will Smallbone.

Southampton dialled up the pressure at the start of the second half and it needed another excellent save from Bialkowski to deny Stuart Armstrong, who had stormed onto Kyle Walker-Peters’ low cross.

There was more resilient defending by the Lions soon after. Harding blocked Walker-Peters’ low strike while the visitors’ top scorer Adam Armstrong lashed over after Smallbone had bulldozed his way through a couple of challenges inside the box.

Bialkowski continued to frustrate Southampton, repelling Kamaldeen Sulemana’s attempt from a swift counter-attack led by Alcaraz in the 74th minute.

Stuart Armstrong’s skidding shot went narrowly wide of Bialkowski’s left upright before Fraser failed to find the target after Alcaraz’s initial attempt was blocked by Millwall captain Jake Cooper.

Millwall were posing only the most intermittent of threats, although Zian Flemming and Ryan Longman both produced respectable attempts even if they did not force Gavin Bazunu into action.

The influential Alcaraz’s 25-yard free-kick was parried away by Bialkowski in the 84th minute but Fraser had the final say when he slid the ball beyond Bialkowski from a cutback by Adam Armstrong.

Millwall look set to name their new manager next week and caretaker boss Adam Barrett has collected two points from a possible 12. This was a fifth home league loss of the campaign – making for the joint worst home record in the division along with QPR.

The managers

Millwall interim manager Adam Barrett:

“You know with the quality players they’ve got and their play that they will wear you down a bit.

“I’m frustrated with the ending because when you switch off for one moment against these tough teams they punish you. They keep working and probing and it was a real sickener to concede so late again.

“I haven’t watched it back, but my initial thoughts are we spoke about the way they play and move and I don’t think we dealt with it well enough.

“They’re good players and they go and punish you. It’s two games there where we should be coming away with four points and we’ve got one.

“It’s vital we get results back on track here, it’s been disappointing.

“We’ve hit the bar first half and that could have changed it. The fans were with the boys all game, it was a great atmosphere. But we’ve got to get The Den back to being a real difficult place to come.”

Southampton’s Russell Martin:

“The lads responded and stayed so brave in the second half. The amount of running we made them do made the game look like it did in the last half-hour.

“We were relentless in attack and at the hour mark I thought ‘we’ve got them’ but their keeper made a few good saves and we couldn’t get the goal.

“Thankfully we got it right at the end and it’s a moment of composure. I’m really grateful for that and proud of the players.

“I think we had control, we limited them to one shot on target and they hit the bar from a set-piece.

“The second half looked a lot different because we were aggressive, we made runs for each other to open them up and I was really pleased with that.”

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