Back down to earth
Tranmere 2, Saints 1
After recent big wins at home and a notable success at Norwich still in the memory, Mr. Pardew was hardly likely to make any changes in the team he put out at Tranmere, notwithstanding their poor record on dodgy pitches.
One of Dixie Dean’s testicles is reputedly still lurking in the Prenton Park mud, but recent dry weather meant it was unlikely to rise to the top of a firm, bumpy but perfectly playable surface. Instead, other factors contributed to Saints’ downfall: the narrowness of the pitch (which Rovers exploit with an all-action approach) and referee Quinn (from that name some of us just knew there was going to be trouble…). Mr. Quinn’s approach seemed to vary from allowing a physical style (although these days no-one was likely to suffer Dean’s famous injury) to blowing for the slightest misdemeanour. The difference seemed to depend upon who came out with the ball, with a couple of seemingly innocuous challenges leading to both home goals.
After just 2 minutes Fonte conceded a soft free kick from which Broomes scored after Edds headed the ball back across the box. Saints, however, had contributed a lot to this unfortunate turn of events after Puncheon stumbled as he was about to jump for the ball – a bigger question is why Puncheon was marking the target man in the first place. More normal service was restored when Lallana’s shot was kicked off the line, only for Barnard to dispatch the rebound. Lallana should, in fact, have turned the game round but he shot wide from Southampton’s best opportunity of the match.
Many felt that the visitors could have had a second half penalty for an offence against Barnard but to me that looked less likely than what had appeared to be a handball by Fonte just before the interval. Barnard eventually got a chance, but Daniels made the save and as the time wore on, Antonio and N’Diaye were introduced to complete the game instead.
At the other end, though, it was another substitute who made a significant contribution as Seaborne’s clumsy challenge resulted in a soft but inevitable penalty, given the way Peter Quinn was running the match. Thomas-Moore (a man for all seasons?) beat Davis’s dive and Saints never really looked like rescuing a point in a fixture where we expected three.
LSSC Man of the Match: Rickie Lambert, voted in for his work ethic rather than the efficiency of the goal machine.
“The boys are very disappointed and one or two of them were below their best.
“This was a game we wanted to win and we were expected to win, but events went against us, and we also missed some chances. We need to bounce back quickly.
“I thought we did enough in the game to get some return, but we were a bit ragged towards the end which is not like us.”
02 Harding (Seaborne 66)
17 Barnard (Antonio 82)
20 Lallana (Papa Waigo 82)