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Shea Charles took one for the team – Southampton boss Russell Martin

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 23 Dec 2023

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Southampton boss Russell Martin applauded Shea Charles for a “good foul” after the midfielder was sent off towards the end of a 1-0 win at QPR.

With the Saints under pressure, midfielder Charles, on as a second-half substitute, halted a Rangers attack in the 89th minute by bringing down Albert Adomah.

It led to Shea being dismissed for a second yellow card and meant the visitors saw out the final stages with 10 men before securing a valuable three points in the race for promotion.

Martin said: “Shea took one for the team, which is unfortunate for him but was a big moment because such a strength of theirs is on the counter-attack.

“(I’ll criticise) if you get sent off for something stupid – dissent or a wild tackle and all that stuff.

“If you’re on a yellow card and one of their biggest threats is the counter-attack, I think it’s a good foul. There are good fouls in the game and that was one.

“Now he misses a game, but I’m never going to criticise someone for taking one for the team.”

A Taylor Harwood-Bellis header three minutes before half-time was enough to clinch victory for Martin’s side, who are fourth in the Sky Bet Championship and now unbeaten in 15 matches – Southampton’s longest unbeaten run since 1950.

The Saints took their chance to close the gap on second-placed Ipswich, who were thrashed 4-0 by fellow promotion challengers Leeds earlier in the day.

“We had an opportunity to make up some points today and thankfully we took it,” said Martin.

“We limited them to very little in terms of big chances. We defended the box brilliantly. On the whole I’m really delighted.

“We were OK in the first half – a little bit of a lack of energy compared to recent weeks – and in the second half I thought we were great.”

QPR boss Marti Cifuentes insisted he took encouragement from his team’s display despite the loss.

Rangers remain third from bottom and have suffered back-to-back defeats, having recently won three matches in a row under the recently-appointed Spaniard.

“I’m disappointed because of the result. We want to win matches and today we were not good enough to do it,” said Cifuentes.

“At the same time, I can feel proud and encouraged about what’s coming because I saw a team that produced a good performance and tried to play positive, attacking football against one of the best sides in the league.

“We made things very difficult for Southampton. We had a good period in the first half and then unfortunately we conceded a goal from a set-piece.

“At half-time we spoke about putting a lot of pressure on them and I think the guys did that excellently.

“Perhaps we lack this clinical part in the last third, because we got in a lot of situations but should have produced more.

“Overall a very positive performance, but when you lose games you can never be satisfied.

“Now it’s time to look forward. I think if we play at the level we did today then we can collect a lot of points.

“I feel quite calm and the most important thing is that the team keeps progressing and improving.”

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