Saints struggle without Rickie
Saints 0, Plymouth 1
Southampton have an old tradition that goes back almost to their founding year (whose 125th anniversary we are, rather strangely, being encouraged to celebrate): to hit the ground crawling at the start of a season.
Despite our being League 1’s hot favourites, many failed to be surprised by the latest August setback; pre-season form had hardly been impressive, Lambert and Lallana were on the injured list and other clubs currently enjoy the pace and unpredictability of Antonio and Papa Waigo N’Diaye.
Saints, though, did look the part in the first half against Plymouth, but neither Connolly nor Barnard could get on the end of a couple of inviting crosses from Dickson, playing wide on the left – and when all was said and done, the half ended with neither goalkeeper troubled into a save.
Not for the first time, Mr. Pardew’s team were caught out by a change of opposition tactics at half time.A substitution made by Peter Reid seemed to pay immediate rewards as Fallon dominated Fonte to head down into an area where several defenders, notably Harding, failed to boot the ball clear and Summerfield prodded the ball home as Davis came off his line.
With an increasingly predictable approach and no real alternative on the bench, Saints were forced to risk Lallana after 60 minutes. This made some difference and Button had to make the afternoon’s only save of note from last season’s 20 goal midfielder. However, the “Southampton nil” element of a 0-1 scoreline always looked likely, and a lot of local bookmakers are feeling happier for that.
LSSC Man of the Match: Ryan Dickson, who made an assured debut, ending up at full back when Lallana came on.
03 Harding (Lallana 65)
10 Puncheon (Holmes 90+1)