Connolly inspires late winners
Saints 2, Shrewsbury 0
Extra spice may have been added to the Cup tie with Shrewsbury by some intemperate comments (“our opponents were looking to cash in on their trip by charging full prices in a move designed only to line their own pockets”) on a Saints web site article concerning a reduction in ticket prices as a reward to home fans. Hang on, though: if Southampton wanted to make this gesture, why should they also expect Shrewsbury to contribute part of their share of the takings? The more likely truth was that the clubs could not agree whether a cheap-but-more strategy would boost overall takings.
A rock bottom (under Cup rules) price only produced an eventual gate of just over 10,000, although ticketing arrangements that make it as difficult as possible for out of town fans to take full advantage of any reduction won’t have helped, and neither did the decision not to open the popular Kingsland Stand.
On the pitch, there was no sign of Fonte, Schneiderlin or Puncheon, and we only saw Lambert come off the bench for the last 25 minutes. However, stats showed that Saints enjoyed 58% of possession and, even more tellingly, forced 15 corners. Shrewsbury showed little ambition other than in the moments just before the break, when Davis had to prove his alertness more than once. The hitherto promising Alex Chamberlain and Guly do Prado will have been disappointed in their contributions and even though Saints ramped up their superiority in the second period, there weren’t many moments when they came close to breaking the deadlock in 90 minutes.
With three minutes added time shown and Shrewsbury’s B&B establishments and pub trade already rubbing their hands with glee, Saints finally got he ball in the net. Neal could only parry Hammond’s shot and an off-balance Connolly (on for Barnard) produced an awkward shot that took a fortuitous bounce off the hard ground which sent it over the prone ‘keeper for an odd, yet deserved, goal. Those who continued to wait for the final whistle were rewarded with an even better moment in the little time remaining as Lallana capped a neat move with a fine curling shot.
LSSC Man of the Match: Adam Lallana, the outstanding creative player on show.
26 Oxlade-Chamberlain (Lambert 66)
09 Barnard (Connolly 89)
11 Guly (Holmes 88)