NAI­SMITH’S GOT SAINTS ON HOLD

The Football League Paper - - FA CUP THIRD ROUND - By Blair Fer­gu­son

STEVEN NAI­SMITH’S header late in ex­tra time earned Nor­wich a re­play and while Ca­naries boss Alex Neil was de­lighted with the late goal, he was less so with Southamp­ton’s sec­ond.

Vir­gil van Dijk volleyed Southamp­ton in front be­fore Steven Whit­taker con­verted from the spot to draw the game level early in the sec­ond-half, fol­low­ing a foul from goal­keeper Harry Lewis.

Maya Yoshida sent a pow­er­ful header past Michael Mc­Gov­ern – while Timm Klose opted to come off the pitch in­jured – to give the vis­i­tors the lead for a sec­ond time be­fore Nai­smith snatched a late lev­eller.

The draw sees Nor­wich’s up­turn in form con­tinue now hav­ing gone three games un­beaten in all com­pe­ti­tions, but two play­ers stood out in par­tic­u­lar for the Ca­naries Boss.

“I was de­lighted for Steven Nai­smith,” he said.

“I thought he worked ex­tremely hard.

“He was dili­gent in his job, he won bat­tles and he did the ugly side of the game re­ally well, and then he was re­warded with his goal.

“I think the most frus­trat­ing thing was their sec­ond goal.

“Klose goes down and de­cides to go off the pitch, which I thought was re­ally naïve be­cause it left us to de­fend for the next two or three at­tacks with­out a cen­tre­back, and sod’s law they score a goal from that area.

“He goes off and we have to de­fend for the next three min­utes with him at the side of the pitch against a Premier League team.”

Saints’ 17-yearold goal­keeper Harry Lewis be­gan his de­but in promis­ing fash­ion, hold­ing on to Martin Ols­son’s free-kick, while Mc­Gov­ern fol­lowed suit at the other end, push­ing Dusan Tadic’s ef­fort over the bar.

Van Dijk then opened the scor­ing be­fore the in­ter­val, vol­ley­ing home from a Tadic cross to put the Saints in front.

But Nor­wich were let back in the game less than ten min­utes into the sec­ond half when Lewis took a poor touch, lead­ing him to foul Cameron Jerome and con­cede a penalty. Whit­taker stepped up to con­fi­dently send the keeper the wrong way and fire high into the right cor­ner.

Yoshida headed the Premier League side in front for a sec­ond time, but Southamp­ton couldn’t hold on. Whit­taker sent in a high cross from the right for Nai­smith to rise and guide past Lewis into the left of the goal with his head.

A late goal means Claude Puel’s out­fit has an­other game to con­tend with go­ing into their League Cup semi-fi­nal, and the Saints boss had con­sol­ing words for Lewis af­ter his mis­take led to the first equaliser.

He said: “It’s im­por­tant to men­tion his two good saves and it’s a pity that he made a mis­take. But also it’s im­por­tant to give him game time be­cause Alex McCarthy is in­jured.

“It’s a pity be­cause we had con­trol of the game and they’ve scored in the last minute.

“We’ve had a strong month in Jan­uary and this has made it dif­fi­cult.

“Now it’s im­por­tant to see how the next game goes and take game af­ter game. We need to try and get a clean sheet.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

HON­OURS EVEN: City's Alexan­der Tettey in ac­tion with Southamp­ton’s Josh Sims

STAR MAN VIR­GIL VAN DIJK Southamp­ton

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