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Apr 12, 2014

Saints fluff their lines again ...

If ever a game summed up the bad side of Saints’ season, and highlighted the rough edges of a brilliant campaign, it was Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Cardiff City.

Saints had the king's share of possession, a plethora of shots (many of which were on target) and looked in complete control of the game, yet managed to come away with nothing.

Yet again it was a game where the history books will show just one statistic, the one that matters: the final score. The rest of the statistics that will soon be lost to the past would have people wondering how on earth Saints managed to lose.

A lot of credit has to go to David Marshall. I praised the Bluebirds' goalkeeper in my preview and he didn't disappoint. If the PFA team of the year was picked on any other criteria than "plays for the top four" he would be a shoo-in, and I reiterate my stance that if Cardiff do get relegated then Saints should solve their lack of keeping depth with a move for the Scot.

No amount of great goalkeeping can excuse Saints for not taking advantage of 68 percent possession and 19 shots. For everything that has been great about Saints' season there are some obvious weak points.

Three points from West Ham, Sunderland, Aston Villa, Stoke City and Cardiff City at home, in games in which they had the majority of the play is not good enough, and Mauricio Pochettino needs to find another way to play against teams that won't suit their A-game.

The loss of Jay Rodriguez was clear for all to see as Saints' attacking was lacking something. Gaston Ramirez, a man I believe should get more opportunities, was an able replacement but isn't the same style of player as Rodriguez. This didn't stop Saints constantly threatening, though, and it was Ramirez who was at the heart of everything positive but there was a distinct lack of edge to Saints in the box.

There were a lot of players who weren't on their game and that is perhaps why dominance didn't turn into points but that doesn't make it any less frustrating.

Saints’ season looks like it will end with little more than a passing whimper, and that is perhaps to be expected, but this performance certainly gives Saints plenty to think about in the summer. The squad is great, but it is far from being the finished article.

Keep the faith.

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