Koeman: Replay was last thing we wanted

Southampton 1 Ipswich Town 1

Koeman: Replay was last thing we wanted

Ipswich will take Southampton back to Portman Road after holding their Champions League-chasing opponents to a 1-1 draw in the FA Cup third round yesterday.

The Tractor Boys, unbeaten in 11 matches, took a first-half lead at St Mary’s when Darren Ambrose headed home, but Morgan Schneiderlin capitalised on a defensive mix-up to put Saints level at the interval.

Southampton last reached an FA Cup final in 2003 when they were beaten 1-0 by Arsenal but Saints, sitting fourth in the Premier League, have realistic hopes of going one stage further this season, particularly as the traditional favourites’ focus becomes diverted by European competition.

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman admitted a replay was the last thing he wanted as his team must now travel to Portman Road on Wednesday, January 14, in between Barclays Premier League trips to Manchester United and Newcastle.

“I don’t understand why you say congratulations, we have to play the replay and that wasn’t what I expected,” Koeman said.

“Am I annoyed? Of course, because we can’t make a lot of changes in the team and I don’t like to make changes. I believe in playing the strongest team.

“We chose not to play Toby Alderweireld today because of a risk to his hamstring but otherwise it was our strongest team. If I give out the message of making changes, the players can say afterwards, ’the manager isn’t taking it seriously’.

“What happens now next week I don’t know. We have to play three away games, difficult ones, so we will see what happens.”

Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy made six changes but refused to bemoan next week’s replay, insisting it should be possible to juggle league and cup success.

“I just said to the lads, ‘well done, it’s the last thing we really wanted’ — but that was tongue in cheek,” McCarthy said.

SOUTHAMPTON: Forster, Ward-Prowse, Fonte, Gardos, Bertrand, Steven Davis, Schneiderlin, Wanyama, Tadic (Isgrove 65), Long, Pelle.

IPSWICH: Gerken, Chambers, Smith, Berra, Mings, Hyam, Bru (Sammon 86), Ambrose (Skuse 69), Stephen Hunt (Stewart 62), McGoldrick, Murphy.

Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).

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