Frustrating Night for Saints as they Miss Big Chance to Seal their First Win of the Campaign
By: Declan Neill
In what was easily their best performance of the season so far, The Saints, unfortunately, came away with only a point against a determined Tran Nguyen. In a game they dominated throughout, they were left feeling frustrated after wasting a host of chances - particularly in the first half.
Tran Nguyen started the game brightly, popping the ball around and looking to make inroads to a solid Saints defence. However, they soon found themselves on the back foot, thanks to a high Saints press that caught them out on numerous occasions.
Saints fired a couple of early warning shots, testing the impressive Trung Nguyen goalkeeper on a couple of occasions - most notably when they had the ball in the net after forcing the Tran Nguyen defence into an error, only for it to be disallowed for offside. But it wasn’t long before their breakthrough deservedly came thanks to an impressive one-two between Chris Grant and summer signing Jacob Spong.
The lack of an established goalkeeper has cost The Saints dearly in their opening two fixtures, but the assured presence of South African, Jody Koks, made a huge difference this evening. It was his kick that found Jacob on the halfway line mid-way through the first half. He flicked the ball perfectly into the path of Chris, who cut back inside and found Jacob with a precise return ball. The big striker took one touch into his path before burying a sweet finish into the corner of the net. It was no more than the Saints deserved.
Wave after wave of Saints attacks followed, with Chris uncharacteristically spurning a couple of great chances to make it two. And by the time the referee blew for halftime, you felt it was only a matter of time before their dominance reaped a second goal.
The second half was a similar story with the Saints forcing more heroics from the Tran Nguyen goalkeeper. This time it was Ross Cunningham cursing his luck. Following a sublime piece of play down the left involving Chris, Dec and Jacob, the ball fell to Ross, 10 yards out on his favoured right foot. The Saints held their breath as he looked certain to put the game to bed with his 2nd goal of the season. However, the goalkeeper pulled off a fine save and the ball span away to safety.
The writing was on the wall for The Saints and, sure enough, Tran Nguyen equalised with their first and only attack. The ball broke, somewhat fortuitously, for their forward after first Brian Monoghan and then Mick Condon both attempted to halt his forward run. Unable to believe his luck as the ball bounced into his path a second time, he kept his composure and calmly slotted the ball passed Jody for a fortunate equaliser.
Saints responded by throwing on some fresh legs from the bench, including promising new forward, Jak Collins. Both Jak and Jai showed some nice touches as Saints pushed hard for their first win of the season. Jacob had a late half-chance to grab all three points, bravely putting his head in for a 50-50 challenge, but again the Tran Nguyen goalkeeper did just enough to put him off - cementing a Man of the Match performance in the process.
The Saints dugout said it all at the final whistle: frustration and disappointment etched on their faces. But they will also take a lot of positives from their most impressive display to date. It feels very much like their first win is not far away at all, a win that could easily ignite a very promising season.