Poor first half costs Saints
Gillingham 2, Saints 1
We haven’t had many meaningless end of season games in recent years, and there was still plenty riding on the match at Gillingham for the home team. Saints, however, could afford to tinker with team selection, and Lambert and Harding failed to make the starting line-up while James replaced the still suspended (and badly missed) Schneiderlin and Aaron Martin came in alongside Fonte for his debut.
All the evidence was that Fonte coped less well than Martin, and he earned an early booking for deliberate handball before letting Jackson get goalside of him as they chased a long ball. Davis blocked the first effort, but Fonte is very accident prone at the moment and the loose ball rebounded off him and into the path of Howe who only had to control it before finding an empty net.
However, it was probably an unwise verbal attack on a linesman, who thankfully didn’t speak Portuguese, that led to the defensive element of a double half-time substitution that saw Seaborne and Lambert introduced and Fonte and Lallana departing.
The new centre back pairing was found wanting in the air as Jackson headed against the post and then Gowling headed inside it as part of the same spell of pressure. Jackson was then prevented from heading The Gills further ahead by a goal-line clearance, before Saints woke up with the introduction of N’Diaye for Barnard. In fact the last third was dominated by the visitors, especially after Connolly took advantage of a situation created by Puncheon and pulled one goal back. Clear cut chances were limited, though, and N’Diaye will rue his choice of squaring the ball across goal instead of shooting when well placed. Thus it was that the away campaign ended with our third league defeat of the calendar year.
LSSC Man of the Match: David Connolly, who was already well in the running before his goal.
12 Fonte (Seaborne 46)
39 Aaron Martin
17 Barnard (Papa Waigo 59)
20 Lallana (Lambert 46)