Baggies maintain unbeaten start to new campaign
ALBION maintained their unbeaten start to the new campaign as two sides in transition produced few clear-cut chances.
The Baggies looked organised in the St Mary’s Stadium encounter and kept the hosts quiet on their own patch.
At the other end, Alan Irvine’s men showed flashes of inspiration and coped well with the loss of Victor Anichebe and Sebastien Pocognoli to injuries in the second half.
The duo’s misfortune handed Barclays Premier League debuts to Brown Ideye and Jason Davidson.
And the former was unlucky to see Fraser Forster prevent him from opening his Albion account in the 74th minute.
Ben Foster was only really pushed to his limits on 37 when he denied Dusan Tadic, although James Ward-Prowse hit the outside of the woodwork with a free-kick 20 minutes from time.
Both bosses named unchanged starting XIs for the South Coast encounter.
Irvine was buoyed by the return of Gareth McAuley on the bench after a calf problem, while former Baggies striker Shane Long was among the Saints substitutes.
The visitors started positively and in the second minute Chris Brunt went down under Nathaniel Clyne’s challenge in the box from Pocognoli’s lofted ball. The Baggies skipper appealed for a penalty, but referee Roger East waved his protests away.
Two minutes later, Brunt drilled in a low cross from the left towards the centre of the 18-yard box and Anichebe did well to beat Maya Yoshida to the ball and flick it just wide of the right-hand post.
The hosts’ first threat saw two of their summer signings combine, with Graziano Pelle heading Tadic’s left-wing cross wide of the far post.
Saido Berahino spotted Andre Wisdom on the overlap on 14 and the on-loan Liverpool right-back delivered a low cross that Graham Dorrans connected with, only to see his goalbound effort blocked by Jose Fonte.
At the other end, Morgan Schneiderlin wriggled past Jonas Olsson in the penalty area from an aerial ball in the 23rd minute and the Sweden international was grateful to Pocognoli for a well-timed last-ditch challenge to avert the danger.
Five minutes later, Olsson himself made a goal-saving block on the edge of his own six-yard box from Pelle’s shot after good work from Tadic and Ryan Bertrand down the left.
The Baggies almost shot themselves in the foot on 31 as Ben Foster came rushing out and got in a muddle with Wisdom, to allow Tadic in behind on the left-hand side of the area. The Serbian international crossed towards the empty net – but Pelle could not stretch high enough to nod home.
The visitors were proving to be their own worst enemy and on 37 Berahino’s attempted clearance 20 yards from his own goal was charged down by Tadic. Steven Davis headed the loose ball back into his path and the wideman forced Foster into a good low save by his near post.
Ronald Koeman made the only change at the break, with Long coming on for Steven Davis.
Club-record signing Ideye made an earlier-than-expected Albion debut seven minutes into the second half as he replaced Anichebe, who was struggling with an injury he picked up towards the end of the first half.
Moments later, Long climbed highest from Tadic’s left-wing cross but headed over from 12 yards.
Ideye almost made an immediate impact as he rose above Bertrand at the back post from Pocognoli’s left-wing cross but headed the wrong side of the post from close range.
Seconds later, Pelle flicked his effort just wide from James Ward-Prowse’s centre.
The Baggies were forced into another change on the hour-mark as Pocognoli limped out of the action to hand Australia international Jason Davidson his Barclays Premier League bow.
Gardner then attempted to slide Brown in on goal but the Nigerian’s first touch was heavy and when he went down under Fonte’s challenge, Wiltshire official East deemed it to be fair.
The Saints came close to opening the scoring on 70 as Ward-Prowse’s curling free-kick clipped the top of the wall and hit the outside of the left-hand post, with Foster at full stretch.
Dorrans fed Ideye in the box four minutes later and he dazzled Yoshida with some quick footwork before seeing Fraser Forster pull off a superb save to keep the scores level.
The Baggies pressed for a winner towards the end with Dorrans attempting to feed the intelligent runs of Ideye. But the hosts’ defence held firm as the game finished goalless.
SOUTHAMPTON (4-2-3-1): Forster; Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Bertrand; Schneiderlin, Wanyama; S Davis (Long HT), Ward-Prowse (Cork 78), Tadic; Pelle. Subs not used: K Davis (gk), Gardos, Taider, Hooiveld, Isgrove.
ALBION (4-2-3-1): Foster; Wisdom, Dawson, Olsson, Pocognoli (Davidson 60); Mulumbu, Gardner; Berahino (Sessegnon 89), Dorrans, Brunt; Anichebe (Ideye 52). Subs not used: Myhill (gk), McAuley, Yacob, Baird.
BOOKINGS: SOUTHAMPTON – Clyne (foul 66); ALBION – Brunt (dissent 42), Gardner (foul 81).
REFEREE: R East (Wiltshire).
ALBION STARMAN: Graham Dorrans.