By Club Spokesman Jordan Sibley in Fribourg.

Saints fell to a defeat against top flight French side FC Sochaux in Fribourg on Saturday, with the final result failing to reflect a well contested and even match.

Saints First Half Team (4-4-2):

Davis. Butterfield, Jaidi, Seaborne, Harding. Oxlade-Chamberlain, Hammond (c), Schneiderlin, Mills. Lambert, Connolly.

Alan Pardew sent out a relatively strong eleven to face Sochaux, new signing Danny Butterfield getting his first taste of action for the Club the day after agreeing terms on a one year deal. Youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was given his second start in a Saints shirt following an impressive showing against FC Thun.

FC Sochaux

New signing Danny Butterfield throws himself straight into the thick of the action
Sochaux also fielded a strong side, with the name of Algerian international Boudebouz standing out from the teamsheet after his exploits in the World Cup against England. The French team, like Thun, were well into their pre-season preparations, which was evident in the first few minutes as they took the game by the scruff of the neck.

As the game progressed Saints began to get a foothold, and despite a lack of clear cut chances for either side, the match was beginning to open up into an end to end encounter. The match was proving a useful sounding board for the coaching staff as Saints began to close down well when not in possession, something that had been worked on at the training ground over the past few days.

It took until the half hour mark before Saints really began to exert themselves on the opposition, winning their first corner as they stepped up a gear with Morgan Schneiderlin at the heart of most of Saints attacks.

FC Sochaux

Saints defend a FC Sochaux corner
On thirty-eight minutes, a diagonal ball into the box by the young Frenchman was chested down by Rickie Lambert but his effort was blocked by a Sochaux defender, as was the follow up from Oxlade-Chamberlain.

As the clock ticked down towards the end of the first half Kelvin Davis kept Saints in the game after Maurice-Belay turned inside the box and got a shot away. Davis parried the ball to the edge of the area and Schneiderlin was first to react and did enough to distract an effort from eighteen yards.

Schneiderlin was back in the thick of it just moments later, as his through ball found Mills in space out wide, however, his powerful shot was well saved by the Sochaux keeper.

Half Time: Saints 0-0 FC Sochaux

Saints Second Half Team (4-4-2):

Davis. Butterfield, Fonte, Seaborne, Harding. Puncheon, Hammond, Schneiderlin, Mills. Lambert, Barnard.

Alan Pardew made three changes at half time, Radhi Jaidi, Oxlade-Chamberlain and David Connolly being replaced by Jose Fonte, Jason Puncheon and Lee Barnard as Saints looked to open the scoring.

However, it was Sochaux who were to take the lead with a clinical finish as Saints looked to get back into their rhythm after the re-start. Ideye managed to get free down the left and pulled back an inch perfect cross that allowed Boudebouz to fire home from 12 yards, leaving Davis with no chance. 0-1 (50)

The goal seemed to wake Saints up and they went on the offensive straight from the kick off, as Rickie Lambert went agonisingly close with a header from ten yards. Lee Barnard was then very unlucky to have a good strike ruled out for a dubious offside decision just before the hour mark.

FC Sochaux

Rickie Lambert directed this header just wide
Sochaux then doubled their lead completely against the run of play at a time when Saints looked the most likely to be the next to score. A deep cross from the left hung in the air, and Maurice-Belay rose highest to power home a header past the outstretched Davis. 0-2 (60)

Pardew then decided to shake things up with a substitution in the hope that a fresh pair of legs could find a way through the stubborn Sochaux backline. Danny Butterfield, who had looked calm and assured throughout was replaced by Lee Holmes as Dan Harding shifted to right back and Mills dropped back to left back to allow Holmes to slot in on the left of midfield.

Once again, as the half progressed Saints came more and more into the match, closing the ball down well when out of possession and looking to counter attack when they had the ball.

However, as is often the way in friendly matches, the game began to fade as a contest once both sides began to make a host of changes. Schneiderlin was withdrawn having taken a hefty knock to his foot, whilst Davis, Seaborne and Hammond also made way for Wotton, Forecast, Martin and McNish.

Saints came close to snatching a consolation with a couple of half chances as the clock ticked down, but will have been disappointed as the referee blew the final whistle that they hadn't done quite enough to register the goal that their endeavour deserved.

Full Time Saints 0-2 FC Sochaux

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