Friday 29th December 2023
Southampton FC
Plymouth Argyle FC
2
()
1
()
- Days
- Hrs
- Mins
- Secs
Full Time - 98
St. Mary's Stadium
Match Details
Southampton Preview

Sync Fixtures

The Game
Southampton v Argyle. St Mary's Stadium. Friday, 29 December. 6pm. Sky Bet Championship.

The Opposition
Southampton were relegated last season from the Premier League, finishing bottom of the league. 

They began this season with 10 points from a possible 12 from their opening four fixtures, including a win at Home Park, but were then beaten four times in a row, including a 5-0 loss at Sunderland, a 4-1 defeat at home Leicester City. 

These four losses are the only four that Southampton have suffered in the league, though, as they have bounced back with a 16-game undefeated run, including 11 wins. They have won their last three fixtures, scoring 10 and conceding none in the process. In their last two home games, Saints have won 4-0 against Blackburn Rovers and 5-0 against Swansea City, with a 1-0 win at Queens Park Rangers in between. 

The Gaffer
Russell Martin (pictured below) took over as Saints manager during the summer. During last season, Southampton had three managers: Ralph Hassenhuttl was sacked and replaced by Nathan Jones, who himself was replaced by Ruben Selles, acting as interim manager. 

Russell Martin

Martin left Swansea City to take the role at St Mary's, having been at the Swans for two seasons, during which they finished 15th and 10th in the Championship. His previous - and first - managerial job was at Milton Keynes Dons, the last team he represented as a player. In his playing career, Martin most notably played over 300 times for Norwich City, and won 29 caps for Scotland. 

The Squad
Adam Armstrong is Southampton's leading goalscorer this season. He has started all 24 games the Saints have played, scored 12 times. Signed for a report £15m in the summer of 2021, Armstrong headed to Hampshire from Blackburn, where he had scored 64 times in 160 Championship appearances for Rovers. 

Two other players have played every game for Southampton during this campaign. Kyle Walker-Peters has played most of his games at right-back, a handful at left-back, and has even filled in a position just off the front. Now 26, he came through the ranks at Tottenham, for whom he played 24 times. After a loan spell at Southampton in 2019/20, he signed permanently at St Mary's. Playing regular Premier League football - and impressing - led to two England caps in 2022. 

Gavin Bazunu

Gavin Bazunu (above) has lined up for every game in the Saints' goal. Not 22 until February, Bazunu already has 21 caps for Ireland. He began his career with the Shamrock Rovers academy, moving to Manchester City at the age of 17. Bazunu never broke into the City team, but impressed with loans to Rochdale, then Portsmouth, and signed on a permanent basis for Southampton in June 2022, for a reported £12m. 

Earlier This Season
The sides met in August, in the third game of the season. Nathan Tella opened the scoring for Saints, with Ryan Hardie equalising almost immediately. It looked as though Argyle, under pressure in the second half, would hold out for a draw, but Che Adams scored in injury time to give the visitors all three points. 

Joe Edwards and Ryan manning

A Strip for the Trip
Argyle will be wearing their white away kit for this game. 

Tickets
Tickets for this game are sold out. For information on collections, delivery and so forth, please click here.

Argyle TV
Argyle TV’s pre-match show, with Charlie Price and Brian McGlinchey, will begin at 2pm, and is available to watch for free on YouTube. Commentary will be provided from St Mary's Stadium by Harry Salvidge and Ian Stonebridge.

International supporters can buy a match pass to watch the game, here. Because of Sky TV coverage, the game's availability is restricted in certain markets. For a full explanation, and to see which territories can view via Argyle TV, click here. 

sale sale sale sale sale

Lewis Gibson at Southampton

Southampton 2
Alcaraz 56
Adams 63

Argyle 1
Hardie 90

Argyle completed a memorable 2023 with a defeat at Southampton, a side that begun their year two divisions above the Pilgrims.

While that gulf has narrowed considerably in the past 12 months, the Saints are still an excellent side and bagged their points with second-half goals from Carlos Alcaraz and Che Adams.

However, the Greens will look back on a disappointing, and incorrect, offside decision that prevented Bali Mumba from notching an opening goal just 35 seconds before Alcaraz scored at the other end.

A late goal from Ryan Hardie, pouncing on a goalkeeping error, ultimately proved to be a consolation.

Argyle made five changes from the Boxing Day draw at Cardiff City, with Joe Edwards, Jordan Houghton, Brendan Galloway, Finn Azaz and Bali Mumba all returning to the starting line-up.

The Saints thrashed Swansea 5-0 three days ago, and they opened with plenty of attacking verve in front of the TV cameras, Samuel Edozie clipping over a couple of dangerous crosses before an incredible, audacious 50-yard effort from Adam Armstrong that landed on top of the net with Conor Hazard scrabbling backwards.

A weaving run from Kyle Walker-Peters resulted in a near-post cross snuffed out by Hazard, swiftly followed by a delicious half-volley from Alcaraz that shaved the outside of the far post, as Southampton dominated the early exchanges.

The Greens were limited to mere scraps on the counter, Azaz almost picking out Ben Waine with a lovely through-ball but the focus was soon back up the other end, Taylor Harwood-Bellis hitting the post with a deft glancing header from a corner.

A lovely break from Randell released Morgan Whittaker for a shot blocked by Jan Bednarek and Southampton replied with the twinkle toes of Edozie drilling a low cross, which was expertly cleared under pressure by Galloway.

While there was no denying Southampton’s attacking threat, the Pilgrims navigated their way past the half-hour with increasing assurance, Galloway finding another terrific block to thwart Will Smallbone from ten yards.

The Green Army, meanwhile, were again impressing everyone with their relentless roar from the away end, Whittaker forcing Edozie into a superb recovery challenge after a rapid Pilgrim counter before Adams scuffed the final effort of the half safely into the arms of Hazard.

Hardie returned from his concussion-enforced absence to replace Ben Waine at the interval but the Saints were soon back in the ascendancy, Julio Pleguzuelo and Galloway both putting their bodies on the line to frustrate the home forwards.

Alcaraz then executed a delightful turn to burst into the box and Hazard produced a top save to divert his deflected effort, both away from goal and away from the lurking Adams. Argyle responded by winning their first corner of the evening, half cleared for Whittaker, who volleyed a difficult effort wide of Gavin Bazunu’s far post.

The Greens were denied a fantastic opener with an extremely tight offside call against Mumba, who nodded in a lovely cross from Whittaker, and moments later, the Saints grabbed the lead, Alcaraz curling a superb finish into the top corner from 20 yards.

To add insult to Argyle’s injury, the replay clearly showed Mumba was onside, with just 35 seconds separating the offside decision and the goal from Alcaraz.

Smallbone came very close to adding another for the hosts, scuttling a shot inches wide, but the Saints did not have to wait long. A lofted ball over the top was perfect for Adams, holding off the challenge of Lewis Gibson before steering past a stranded Hazard.

Mickel Miller and Luke Cundle replaced Mumba and Houghton in a change of emphasis for the Pilgrims but it was a Southampton substitute, Joe Aribo, who almost ended the contest with an excellent curling strike that was just a fraction wide.

A knock for Pleguzuelo prompted another Argyle change, Dan Scarr his readymade replacement, and he joined a defence under pressure, Adam Armstrong drilling a shot that was brilliantly saved by the strong palms of Hazard.

Mustapha Bundu for Azaz was the final Argyle change and the Greens had no choice but to throw men forward in the final stages, with Miller, in particular, asking questions with his powerful running from the left.

Credit to Southampton, however, their impressive control of possession is a major reason the Saints are serious contenders in the race for automatic promotion.

There was one final twist to the year, Bazunu hesitating when being closed down by Hardie, who got enough of a toe on the ball to force it into the gaping net. A top save by the feet of Hazard then denied Ryan Fraser but the home side had done enough for victory.

While it ended in a defeat at St Marys, 2023 has been a wonderful year in the history of Argyle, thanks for all the memories and we wish the Green Army a very happy 2024.

Southampton: 31 Gavin Bazunu; 2 Kyle Walker-Peters, 3 Ryan Manning, 9 Adam Armstrong (capt) (5 Jack Stephens 81), 10 Che Adams (26 Ryan Fraser 68), 16 Will Smallbone (17 Stuart Armstrong 68), 21 Taylor Harwood-Bellis, 22 Carlos Alcaraz (7 Joe Aribo 68), 23 Samuel Edozie (18 Sekou Mara 75), 24 Shea Charles, 35 Jan Bednarek. Substitutes (not used): 13 Joe Lumley (gk), 6 Mason Holgate, 27 Sam Amo-Ameyaw, 33 Tyler Dibling.

Booked: Smallbone 40, Manning 44, Alcaraz 55

Argyle: 21 Conor Hazard; 2 Bali Mumba (28 Luke Cundle 65), 4 Jordan Houghton (14 Mickel Miller 65), 5 Julio Pleguezuelo (6 Dan Scarr 71), 8 Joe Edwards (capt), 10 Morgan Whittaker, 17 Lewis Gibson, 18 Finn Azaz (15 Mustapha Bundu 78), 20 Adam Randell, 22 Brendan Galloway, 23 Ben Waine (9 Ryan Hardie H-T). Substitutes (not used): 25 Callum Burton (gk), 3 Macaulay Gillesphey, 7 Matt Butcher, 11 Callum Wright, 29 Kaine Kesler-Hayden.

Booked: Mumba 13, Edwards 56

Referee: James Linington

Attendance: 30,559