Belfast Telegraph

Shane Long: Southampton kept faith after ending losing run

By John New

Football is famously a results business, but everyone at St Mary's on Saturday preferred to talk about performances following Southampton's 3-0 win - the home team because they could finally afford to do so with conviction after ending a run of five successive defeats, and Everton because it was their only consolation.

An own goal from Romelu Lukaku, and strikes from Graziano Pelle and Maya Yoshida, ended Saints' poor run of results.

Saints forward Shane Long, who made life uncomfortable for a jittery Everton defence all afternoon, insisted that his team's recent results had been misleading and that there had never been any question of their early-season bubble bursting.

"People don't have a clue what they are talking about, saying stuff like that," he said.

"I think if you'd come to watch us and seen the games, you would be happy with the performances. You'd be disappointed with the results, like we were, but we knew that if we kept doing the right things that things would turn our way and we'd get that rub of the green and take our chances when they come."

The individual performance that took the eye came from the latest graduate of Southampton's academy, 19-year-old England Under-20 international Harrison Reed, making his first Premier League start and looking assured in a holding midfield role.

"I was delighted for him because he trains hard and I was really impressed since the first day I came in," Long said.

"It is hard to get a game with the quality we have in midfield, but two suspensions [to Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama] and Jack Cork injured as well have given him a chance to shine and he took it. I thought he was immense today and did really, really well stopping the ball getting to the attack and breaking up play. It was good to watch."

Roberto Martinez, the Everton manager, claimed that his team had performed well and only been let down by their defending of corner kicks and crosses, which is like saying that your house is in good condition apart from not having a roof.

"We've been hurt this season when we haven't protected the 18-yard box well enough, dropped points against Arsenal and Leicester in the last six or seven minutes when we should have been comfortably winners," he said.

"That's been a real disappointment, the lack of consistency in the results. In terms of performances it's getting better."

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