Southampton 2 Ipswich Town 1
An arduous Championship grind has given Roy Keane cause for exasperation
this season and he now has to contend with the piercing disappointment of
an FA Cup upset.
The rational would argue that Southampton’s triumph hardly constitutes a
shock since they have looked impressive one division below Ipswich Town, yet
this defeat will resonate abrasively with the Irishman, winner of this competition
four times as a player.
Ipswich would be ameliorated immeasurably by an intelligent schemer capable
of breaching defences. Their attacks lacked guile even though their approach
play displayed a fluency which had instigated a run of one defeat in 15 matches
before this one.
It was, nonetheless, a great compliment to Southampton manager Alan Pardew
and his players that, for large periods, this fixture might easily have been
mistaken for a league clash rather than a cup tie.
Southampton pressed Ipswich all over the pitch. Forward Lee Barnard, who Southampton
assistant manager, Dean Wilkins, predicted would have a “mouth-watering” impact
on this game, carried out the unglamorous job of spearheading his side’s harassment
of Ipswich Town.
The pressure exerted on the ball prompted a brittleness which has undermined
them so often. Lee Holmes’ flick in the first half located an unmarked Barnard
in the area but his shot was tame.
Ipswich responded, threatening to reinforce their passing game, which broke
down in the second half, with a cutting edge. One flowing move found Jaime
Peters, tearing forward from left back, but his tantalising cross somehow
eluded the blue shirts racing into the box.
Then came a goal to shudder Ipswich and elate Southampton. Joseph Mills’ cross
was headed out by Gareth McAuley and met some 25 yards out by Wayne Thomas,
whose sublimely-executed angled shot found the top corner.
Such adroitness was out of sync with an attritional game but Thomas’ extravagant
finish deserved to settle matters. As it was substitute Michail Antonio clinched
Southampton’s progress to the next round.
McAuley was penalised for a foul outside his own box, Rickie Lambert’s free-kick
squirmed out of Arran Lee-Barrett’s grasp and Antonio swept in the loose ball.
Pablo Counago pulled a goal back but Southampton were not to be denied. “We’re
going to Wembley” sang their supporters with voracious joy.
Neil Trainis (telegraph.co.uk)