June 25, 2024

Russell Martin wanted Southampton to beat Stoke for staff member leaving after 14 years

Southampton welcomed a Stoke City team battling relegation to St Mary’s on Saturday for the final home game of the regular season.

Whilst Stoke needed a win to be absolutely sure of their Championship future, relegation was already highly unlikely due to the number of teams between them and the bottom three.

What transpired was a game with a real end of season feel, as a poor game was played out by two sides who struggled to look interested.

Stoke were the better of the two teams, though, and deservedly took a 36th-minute lead through Tyrese Campbell who beat the sluggish Taylor Harwood-Bellis before striking into the far corner.

Southampton huffed and puffed in the second-half but never really looked like scoring against a resolute Stoke defence.

Manager Russell Martin rang the changes with a number of his regular starters watching on from the bench.

However, arguably only Samuel Edozie of the fringe players did anything to help his chances of greater involvement moving forward.

It was as anti-climatic a final home game you are likely to see and that left Martin very unhappy at how things worked out.

Russell Martin ‘disappointed’ with Stoke loss

The feeling around the club has been largely negative in the past week, with the 1-0 loss against Stoke the Saints’ third in seven days.

It has put a real dampener on what has been a largely positive season, with a complete overhaul of playing style resulting in a comfortable play-off finish.

The season has also seen Southampton break their club record unbeaten run, not tasting defeat for 25 games between the end of September and the beginning of February.

However, with defeats to Ipswich Town and Leicester, as well as points dropped against Middlesbrough, Blackburn Rovers and Cardiff City, Southampton fans can’t help wondering what might have been.

This has not been helped by the sides above the Saints stumbling to get across the line in the battle for automatic promotion, meaning the last few weeks feel like an opportunity missed.

Speaking to the official Southampton website after the Stoke game, Martin was in a downbeat mood himself, as he said: “I’m disappointed it’s ended at home in this way.”

Martin wanted Stoke win for club doctor

Russell Martin, Manager of Southampton looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Southampton FC and Stoke City at St. Mary's Stadium o...

Southampton players and staff did a lap of honour after the game, but few supporters stayed out in the rain to bear witness after a disappointing end to the campaign.

Had the players put in a decent performance in their final St Mary’s outing ahead of the play-offs it may have been a different story but as it was few remained in their seats.

Whilst this is was perhaps undeserved for the players and staff, Martin understands that the narrative around his team’s season has changed slightly due to recent results.

The Saints boss said: “We have to get over this week. It’s really disappointing because it will change how people feel about the season as a whole, I think, the feeling we have at the moment, because there’s been some really brilliant, brilliant moments.”

It was also a real shame, as Martin had cited this game as an opportunity to get one last win for a loyal servant to the club, with the ex-Swansea City manager asking his players to win the game for one of their club doctors.

Martin told of how he tried to use this as motivation, summarising the game by saying: “Frustrating for everyone really; the players, the supporters, [Steve] Baynes the doc who will be leaving us after today after 14 years of service.

“I asked the players to finish it off very well for him and I feel we haven’t been able to do that. I thought the supporters deserved more today, the players deserved more because of how good they’ve been this season.”

Unfortunately, that was not enough, as a more determined Stoke took the points back with them.

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