Tuesday evening saw the rearranged Boxing Day clash between promotion chasing Southampton and Charlton Athletic, a game that, pre-season, look a potential banana skin for the high-flying Saints. However, with The Addicks lacking in mid-table, taking just one point from their last eight games, the Saints entered the game as the favourites winning their previous four.
There was high expectation amongst the three thousand travelling Saints fans, as Saints looked for the three points that would leapfrog them ahead of both Peterborough and Huddersfield.
The game began with the visitors defending the goal in front of the Jimmy Seed stand, packed to the rafters with the travelling fans. The first fifteen minutes were slow, with both sides struggling to break down the other, looking like a stereotypical lower league scrappy game.
The Saints made the first real opportunity, after a foul on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, when Dan Harding swung a left football into the box, the ball was headed across the face of the goal by Rickie Lambert. Jose Fonte attempted to turn the ball, only to be denied by Spanish centre back Miguel Llera.
With the end-to-end midfield battle continuing, chances were still hard to come by. On the thirty minute mark Saints striker Rickie Lambert struck a free kick from over thirty yards, that almost crept past Rob Elliots diving hand, but the Charlton stopper was equal to it.
Saints suffered their first major blow ten minutes before the break. Winger and playmaker Adam Lallana fell awkwardly after a challenge, resulting in a suspected groin injury. He was replaced by Leicester City loanee Danny N’Guessan. The sides went into the half time break with honours even, at nil-nil.
After the break, in Robin van Persie-esque style, former Saint Bradley Wright-Phillips was booked for kicking the ball away after an offside decision. The game continued in the same vein after the break, with neither side really being able to get a hold on it and creating very few chances.
Both Kelvin Davis and Elliot were tested by the opposing strikers, but managed to keep their sides in the game. On the hour mark however, Saints suffered their second massive blow of the game. The young winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fell harshly near the opposing by-line, resulting in another injury setback for the Saints. He was substituted and replaced by the Brazilian forward Guly Do Prado.
Do Prado made an almost instant impact on the game, forcing two corners. Taking the second corner, Guly delivered a beautifully flighted ball in for the big Tunisian defender, Radhi Jaidi, to volley home with great control. One-nil to the visitors.
Charlton, in attempt to get back into the match, had a five-minute onslaught at the Southampton goal, including Miguel Llera’s shot which hit the underside of the crossbar. Charlton’s pressure finally took its toll in the final five minutes when former Saint, Bradley Wright-Phillips, tucked home an equaliser for the Addicks.
Looking to regain the lead, Saints bundled more and more men forward. On the 88th minute N’Guessan thought he has won the game for his side, only to be ruled out by the linesman’s flag, despite replays later showing the linesman to have made the wrong decision.
The game ended one-all and each side earned a point. Southampton move up to third in the table, with two games in hand on Huddersfield in second. With Charlton taking their second point from nine games, they move up to twelfth.
The Saints will come out licking their wounds from the game, seeing it as two points dropped. The added effect of the double injury blow, means that the Saints promotion charge has been quelled slightly.