Southampton preserve long unbeaten run with thrilling win over Huddersfield

10 February 2024 0 By Total Football News

Joe Rothwell's spectacular double saw Southampton recover from 2-0 down to beat Huddersfield 5-3 in a Sky Bet Championship thriller at St Mary's.

Saints were seeing their record 24-game unbeaten run dissolve in front of their eyes when goals from Sorba Thomas and David Kasumu left relegation-battling Huddersfield in charge at the break.

Rothewell's brilliant brace levelled things up soon after half-time but Town reclaimed the lead in the 65th minute through Alex Matos.

However, a Tom Lees own goal in the 80th minute saw parity restored and Saints would go on to claim the points thanks to late strikes Sekou Mara and Samuel Edozie, ensuring they remain second in the table.

Jon Worthington's spell as caretaker manager of Huddersfield had started with a 4-0 victory over fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday and the confidence from that victory was clear.

A variety of early half-chances came and went but Flynn Downes' exit in the 32nd minute while clutching his groin allowed the Terriers to pounce, as Saints were forced to rejig their midfield.

Jack Rudoni pulled back the ball from the left to an unmarked Thomas who cleverly bounced his low finish over Ryan Manning's leg to put the visitors 1-0 up in the 36th minute.

It was the first time Southampton had been behind at home in almost 22 hours and only the second goal they had conceded at St Mary's in three months.

Nine minutes later they had conceded a second. This time Thomas turned provider with a run and cross from the right which wing-back Kasumu crashed into the roof of the net.

Kasumu had played under Southampton boss Russell Martin at MK Dons and this was his first Huddersfield goal on his 50th appearance.

The home side's performance, tied in with an unhappiness towards referee David Webb, saw loud boos accompany the half-time whistle.

But four minutes after the re-start, Saints got themselves back into the game in style when Rothwell smashed an unstoppable volley into the top corner after Lee Nicholls had punched Stuart Armstrong's corner to the edge of the box.

It was Rothwell's first goal since arriving on loan from Bournemouth last month. He only had to wait another 65 seconds for his second.

This time his former Cherries team-mate, and fellow substitute, David Brooks found his run into the box with a clever reverse pass before Rothwell finished with aplomb over Nicholls.

The Saints fans were deafening in their celebrations and were ready to take the roof off when Adam Armstrong was sent clean through but elected to attempt a chip that was claimed by a grateful Nicholls.

Huddersfield then found a second wind and they capitalised when Matos stepped onto his right foot and fired the visitors back in front, his shot deflecting up off Will Smallbone and over the despairing Gavin Bazunu.

But Saints continued their club record unbeaten run in style with two goals in the space of four minutes to go 4-3 ahead.

They levelled things when Rothwell's low ball from the left was turned into his own net by Lees before Mara put the hosts in front for the first time after Brooks had cut back to him.

Another substitute, Edozie, capped things off in stoppage time after Mara had held off three defenders to tee him up as Saints kept their noses just ahead of Leeds.

The managers

Southampton's Russell Martin:

"I enjoyed the feeling at the end. That isn't my kind of game. It was like basketball at one point, it was carnage. I love basketball but not on a big pitch.

"My immediate feeling is immense pride and gratitude towards the players and the supporters for the energy they showed.

"The conversation we had at half-time was about how it is never easy to play the way we want to play.

"To do what they are doing is incredible. Nobody should ever take that for granted. It takes immense work, courage and intensity. We lacked all of that in the first half.

"Then, to bring it back to 2-2, what a response. Then we got caught up in that emotion. To go 3-2 down and deal with that setback was incredible.

"I'm frustrated at the first half. I'm frustrated that we have conceded as many goals today as we have in our last 10 home games.

"But big credit to Huddersfield, I thought they were great. They came here with complete freedom. They deserved to be leading at half time, but we deserved to win it by the end of the game.

"We will take a lot from that second half, but we will also learn a lot from the first half. The gaps were too big and we lacked courage because what Huddersfield were doing to us.

"We got spooked for the first time in a long time. To overcome that in the way that we did was immense. I am so proud of them."

Huddersfield caretaker Jon Worthington:

"I enjoyed the game. The lads gave everything I asked of them and followed the plan to a tee. There are loads of positives especially as a coach and from the way we played.

"I'm really proud. I believe in this group of players and they have trust in me and the staff to follow the game plan.

"We are disappointed with the result. I want to win games, and hate losing and so do the players.

"Loved the performance and the front four and that is how I think it should be played. At 2-0 up we didn't want to sit back because that would be what Southampton wanted."

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