Antonio strike gives Saints the edge
MK Dons 0, Saints 1
Close on 3,000 Saints fans made it to Milton Keynes for the latest chapter in the JPT saga, but the home team couldn’t attract many more amongst their own followers on a night of widespread live TV football, including this game – surely a bank manager somewhere is concerned about the business plan that has given the Dons an impressive but unnecessarily large new stadium.
Southampton had two recent signings cup tied while injury and illness kept out key players Hammond and Harding, but a reshuffled team stormed into the attack and should have rewarded their followers in the second minute – but Fonte’s shot after a corner flew wide.
That was the story of the opening stages, with Antonio choosing to go it alone and ignore Lallana as another chance went begging, and then Lallana made a poor connection when well placed to allow the prone Gueret to recover and make a save.
In fact it was a Dons player who came closest to giving the Saints the lead when Chadwick inadvertently lofted a clearance that bounced down on top of the bar. Most of Saints’ approach work, good and bad, revolved around Antonio and in due course he shot home off the post after Lambert had brought down a high ball.
Things only began to change when Levein limped off and was replaced by Randall who marked his presence with a bad foul but seemed to make a difference to the balance of play. However, normal service from the Southampton attack was resumed after the break and Antonio’s determined run ended with a goal-bound shot deflected just wide. I’m not sure I like the way Paul Ince’s team go about their business when they don’t have the ball, but they can play when it’s at their feet. Nevertheless the manager must have felt that more desperate measures were needed as the game wore on, so a succession of substitutes arrived, each bigger than the last and possessing a longer throw. Saints too were relying on this crudest of fair tactics through Antonio and if FIFA found a way to prevent it, the game would be a more pleasing spectacle. A transgression of the rules as they are now meant that we had to play through the closing minutes without Schneiderlin who was sent off for his part in a ‘handbags’ incident, which was doubly hard as he had felt the full force of Randall’s early rash challenge. The 10 men only just hung on in a game they had mostly dominated as Davis was forced into a couple of late saves and Wilbraham shot against the same post that had aided Antonio’s goal.
LSSC Man of the Match: Paul Wotton, edging out Fonte because I want to reward someone in Southampton’s excellent midfield.
37 Antonio (Papa Waigo 90+4)
20 Lallana (Holmes 72)
39 Aaron Martin,
09 Papa Waigo