Premier League
Southampton 3 West Ham United 2

Saturday, 19th August 2017
by Gordon Thrower

I think we can now safely assume that you have to actually murder someone before you get dropped from the referee’s select group list.

I knew it was going to be one of those days when I heard a middle-aged home supporter sound genuinely excited at the thought there might be those clapper things that they give out to simpleton football supporters. There were and the home support couldn't have been more excited than when they last stood pointing at traffic lights.

The day got worse when Winston Reid pulled up lame in the warm-up necessitating a change woth Fonte coming in. Sadly Lee Mason didn't pull up with a broken leg necessitating his replacement with something more intelligent and with less of a stench about him. A dog turd would have done the trick. Team: Hart, Zabaleta, Cresswell, Fonte, Ogbonna, Noble, Rice, Ayew, Antonio, Arnautovic, Hernandez.

We started brightly enough - Anautovich got on the end of a through ball from Antonio but couldn't quite get the hook around it. Antonio had a header well saved a few minutes later but the wheels fell off on 12 minutes.

Redmond fed Gabbiadini who Fonte forgot to follow.Gabbiadini's shot might not have eluded Hart had ne not gone down so slowly and, as seems depressingly par for the course, we were 1-0 down to a team that had barely got out of their own half for 10 minutes. At this point someone had worked out the instructions for the clappy things. "Look slap bits together it make noise Jethro - tell your sister-neice".

Four minutes later the home side should have been down to ten men. Hernandez was poleaxed by a ribcage high challenge, no make that assault. It was intentional and Tadic shouldn't have even paused as he walked off. Disgracefully Mason decided that it was worth no more than a yellow.

I was intrigued to see what MOTD would have to say about it. However, since mentioning it would have called Mason's performance into question in a match that they clearly had a distorted view to present, they simply didn't show it. Beggars belief really.

We pressed forward in search of an equaliser. Arnautovic stooped low for a header that saw Forster save uncomfortably. The corner was poor - though there was all sorts of shirt-pulling and pushing going on in the box that was ignored by Mason. You may wish to store up that snippet for later.

Remember the advantage law? Not Mason. Yet another foul designed to break up play was only partially successful. Seeing a potential break develop was clearly not on Mason's agenda.

Firstly - and in direct contravention of the laws of the game - he refused to let play continue. Secondly he added to the punishment by refusing to allow the free kick to be taken anywhere other than the precise blade of grass. Needless to say this was not a requirement for free-kicks taken by the home side, one of which was allowed to be taken ten yards away from the foul, and with a ball that was as moving as Mason's principles.

Mason was enjoying his day in the limelight. Arnautovic was flattened by an elbow and went down. Elsewhere in the country it was a red card decision - ask Robson-Kanu. However the ball broke well for Southampton and, ignoring the instruction that the game should be stopped for head injuries, Mason waved play on only stopping the game when it became clear that the home side wouldn't score.

At this point Noble slid in with a challenge that might have warranted red. However, given the game should have been stopped 20 seconds earlier under a competent and honest referee the incident wouldn't have happened. This caused MOTD a problem - it was impossible to show the Noble challenge without showing the elbow. So they just pretended the elbow didn't happen. It got precisely zero mentions.

Arnautovic was just stupid. Having seen that Mason was giving the home side everything he then went in with his forearm on Stephens as a misguided form of revenge. If you have a dishonest ref don't give him the excuse to carry out his bent agenda.Mason had given enough clues as to where his sympathies lay, why give him the chance. So in a match when the opposition should have been down to 9 we were down to 10. Against 12.

Fonte then made things worse, needlessly pulling down Davis in the box. Hart was a bit unlucky with the spot-kick taken by Tadic who shouldn't have been on the pitch to take it and the home support were delighted that they could play with their new toys again.

We were given a lifeline just before the interval. Antonio wriggled free from a challenge on the edge of the box and shot. Forster made a hash of it and Hernandez buried the rebound. Mason allowed the goal. Can't think why for the life of me. He hadn't let the laws of the game get in the way of his agenda so far so it seemed odd that he would start doing so now.

The second half showed why the home side hadn't scored at home for aeons. With 12v10 they had tons of possession but rarely tested Hart. On the rare occasions crosses came in Hart elected to make things a bit difficult for himself by punching what appeared to be catchable crosses. The only efforts that moved the inbreds to pick up their clapper things were from distance, Gabbiadini clipping the bar from distance being the closest of these.

We should have had a penalty - making three clear cut ones not awarded this season so far. A ball played into the box was flicked away, deliberately, by Stephens. Mason knew it was dodgy but waved play on anyway. Had it happened up the other end the whistle would have gone without question.

On 68 minutes we made a double change. Fernandes replaced Ayew, which was pretty much the first time anyone had noticed Ayew was on the pitch. And Sakho replaced the effective but tiring Antonion And both subs were involved in the equaliser.

Fernandes skipped clear of a few attempted trips and switched play to the left. Cresswell crossed early. Sakho met the header which Forster parried onto the bar. Hernandes buried the rebound to give the score a more honest complexion.

Obiang replaced Rice to give a more robust look to the middle and we looked reasonably comfortable. However, as three minutes of stoppage were announced I expressed the opinion that Mason wouldn't let it end all square.

Remember the corners earlier when Southampton were allowed all sorts of pushes and nudges that we keep getting told referees were clamping down? Mason finally punished one. Fair enough but if you only punish one side Mr Mason people might question your honesty. I wouldn't though. I know you don't have any.

Austin - who later admitted "I was surprised we got the penalty" stuck it away to give the home side an undeserved three points.

Post match one of their brave little soldiers decided to hit, well more of a girly slap, one of our supporters. Now if you want to look "hard" little boy I suggest that a) you don't run away, and b) when you are ringing your mates don't say you took on twenty on your own as I heard you say on your mobile.

Oh and if you're his mum the reason his shorts were brown was that he was visibly bricking it looking nervously over his shoulder every few yards lest his "victim" had caught him up. Pathetic.

Meanwhile I look forward to hearing the usual defence of referees from those who, by defending the indefensible, have got us to this sorry state of affairs in the first place.

The more disgraceful performances like these are allowed to go unpunished the more commonplace they will become. This is something I said years ago.
I was right wasn't I.

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Player Ratings

Joe Hart
Slow getting down for the first goal. Punched when he should have caught. Not too impressed so far.

Pablo Zabaleta
Decent game. Unfairly castigated over the penalty given all that went before.

Aaron Cresswell
Not bad but struggled with having to have the decidedly undefensive Hernandez in front of him in the second half.

Angelo Ogbonna
Looked reasonably comfortable.

Jose Fonte
It says volumes that neither Southampton's MOTM (Mason) nor his runner-up wore a Southampton shirt. Though both might well have done.

Declan Rice
A few stray passes early on but settled down to have a decent game.

Mark Noble
Was a leading voice for the lads when he was on and helped the team keep their shape. Very comfortable on the ball and picking out some good passes, a shame seeing him substituted so early in the second half.

Michail Antonio
Caused problems but tired rapidly in the second half.

Marko Arnautovic
Stupid. Can feel justifiably aggrieved that he walked whilst others stayed on bit if you know the referee is dodgy why give him the chance?

Javier Hernandez
Great poaching skills which gives cause for optimism in the future.

Andre Ayew
I only noticed him twice, first appealing for the penalty on the not unreasonable grounds that handball is against the laws of the game. Second when he was subbed for Fernandes.


Edimildon Fernandes
(Replaced Fernandes) His skill led to the equaliser. Not much else to remember but it was still more a contribution than the man he replaced managed.

Diafra Sakho
(Replaced Antonio) Beginning to signs of form - got on the end of a couple of crosses, including the one that led to the equaliser.

Pedro Obiang
(Replaced Masuaku) Bolstered up the midfield for the closing 15 or so. Did ok.

Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo
Did not play.

Sam Byram
Did not play.

Arthur Masuaku
Did not play.

Winston Reid
Injured during warm-up.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Aaron Cresswell, Angelo Ogbonna, Jose Fonte, Declan Rice, Mark Noble, Michail Antonio, Marko Arnautovic, Javier Hernandez, Andre Ayew.

Goals: Javier Hernandez 45 Javier Hernandez 73                .

Booked: None.

Sent Off: Marko Arnautovic 33    .

Southampton: Forster; Cedric, Yoshida, Stephens, Bertrand; Davis (Long 80’), Romeu, Lemina (Ward-Prowse 64’), Redmond, Tadic; Gabbiadini (Austin 80’) .

Subs not used: McCarthy, Bednarek, McQueen, Boufal.

Goals: Gabbiadini 11’, Tadic (p) 38’, Austin (p) 90’ .

Booked: .

Sent off: None.

Referee: Lee Mason.

Attendance: 0.

Man of the Match: Javier Hernandez.