Saints in the hat!
Saints 2, Blackpool 0
I sometimes wonder why the F.A. Cup has lost its public appeal so suddenly… but then the likes of Messrs Adkins and Holloway submit their team sheets and it all becomes clear.
Only Hammond, Lallana and Lambert survived from the starting line-up at Dagenham, although the unexpected return of Puncheon and the inclusion of Richardson and Barnard after injury didn’t necessarily weaken the side.
Blackpool’s surgery was even more severe, and although there are clubs around with squads strong enough to beat any League One opposition whatever the selection, the Seasiders are not amongst them. Although we didn’t get to the tackle-free football associated with a testimonial, the tempo for this match was low – at least compared to what Saints are used to. The home team were generally on top, and Lambert hit the bar after Rachubka found it hard to deal with a cross.
Otherwise, the ‘keeper managed some decent blocks, including one after the break when Lambert found himself clear on the left. The ball hit Rachubka’s outstretched leg, but it fell for Barnard who took his time before beating a couple of covering defenders with his shot.
Saints were probably a bit over-elaborate in front of goal, with Lallana particularly guilty, while Blackpool’s best player, Phillips, chose a more direct approach. His shot was at a nice height for Bialkowski to make a spectacular save, but the Pole could have made a spectacular clanger when he dropped a cross and thanked his defenders for keeping the line safe.
Do Prado came on for the closing stages, and he continued his recent goalscoring form with a memorable turn and shot from distance that made the game safe. It could have been even more embarrassing for the Premier League team when another substitute, Chamberlain, ran clear, but his shot came back off the post. So Saints’ low-key cup progress continues, and maybe Ian Holloway’s acid post match comment should have been made beforehand to spice things up a bit. Things might be very different in the next round.
LSSC Man of the Match: Morgan Schneiderlin, ahead of Jason Puncheon.
14 Hammond (Dickson 61)
20 Lallana (Guly 79)
09 Barnard (Oxlade-Chamberlain 84)