'Has to stop' - Southampton boss delivers blunt message to his players ahead of Preston North End's visit to St Mary's

Southampton boss Russell MartinSouthampton boss Russell Martin
Southampton boss Russell Martin
PNE will head to the south coast on Wednesday keen to make the most of Southampton's defensive problems

Frustrated Russell Martin has issued a blunt warning to his Southampton defence ahead of Preston North End’s midweek trip to St Mary’s: cut out the nonsense at the back!

The Saints boss took issue with his defenders after they conceded three ‘really poor goals’ in their 4-3 win at Birmingham on Saturday. Russell was delighted with the manner of the win, especially after seeing his side come from behind twice, before securing a 90th-minute winner at St Andrew’s. But he was far from happy with his side’s defensive showing, with one of Birmingham’s goals coming when they had been reduced to 10 men, following Dion Sanderson’s red card just after the hour mark.

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Heading into the Preston game, Southampton have now conceded 16 goals in their past seven games. That has contributed to two home defeats on the trot - plus a heavy Championship loss at the hands of Bristol City - for the promotion-chasers, who now sit five points off the automatics,

Speaking after Saturday’s win against Birmingham, the Saints boss insisted his defence can’t always rely on his forwards to bail them out. He told BBC Radio Solent: ‘I’m delighted with the win - I think we deserved it. To come away from home and have as many shots as we’ve had (was good). There was so much good football and some incredible performances, but we conceded three rubbish goals - and that has to stop. We can’t keep having to score that many goals to win a game, especially after some of the stuff the lads played.

'It was incredible. But we conceded really poor goals and that has to stop. At 3-2, we should never let them in with 10 men, so very frustrated, and then fortunately for us, the subs have had a very good impact again, which is nice.

‘I was so happy with so much of the stuff. If we cut out the nonsense at the minute in our own box, because that’s what it is, then we have a real chance.

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‘The identity of the team is so clear (going forward) - what they’re doing, they’re moving for each other, they’re playing for each other. The balance at the minute between both boxes is not quite good enough, so we need to make sure we start defending properly. It’s not been good enough recently and the players know that.’

Play-offs-chasing Preston go into Wednesday’s game on the south coast unbeaten in their past seven games and with 13 goals scored. Those goals have been shared around the Lilywhites team. However, there’s no doubt that Emil Ris, who has bagged four in his last five games, will be keen to exploit any Southampton frailties at the back.

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