Boring, boring Saints!
Saints 2 Peterborough 1
It’s been suggested that Butterfield only played against Middlesbrough to provide a different angle for crosses from our full back. If that’s true, then it worked perfectly… but the player would be entitled to feel a bit peeved at his omission for the next game, against Peterborough.
At some point, though, tweaking the team to counter opponents risks overlooking the qualities of your own players, and the inclusion of Harding and Schneiderlin for Fox and Cork seemed odd. Although the fixture matched the division’s top scoring teams, it had a lack-lustre feel to it, especially from a Southampton perspective, given that they had been superb against Middlesbrough.
The team hadn’t mounted any sort of threat until they suddenly took the lead in the 15th minute – some neat passing around the edge of the box let in Chaplow (even if that might not have been the intention) and the finish gave him a deserved goal. More slick passing soon produced a second goal, with the ploy of Lambert shaping for a massive free kick but choosing a less direct approach paying dividends: Do Prado’s low cross turned in by Hooiveld. 2-0 was a nice margin, and the advantage was enhanced when referee Ward dismissed Frecklington for the second of two quite innocuous fouls.
That rather spoiled the game as both sides adapted to the changed dynamic. Do Prado, who is carrying a knock, made way for De Ridder, while Posh defended in depth, presumably to ensure they didn’t have too much of a mountain to climb in the dying stages. In a flurry of activity, Saints were denied by goalkeeper Jones, the offside flag and sheer weight of numbers in equal measure, but when Lallana was rested, the team settled into a pattern of passing the ball around for fun.
There may have been an element of complacency about this, but a goal by pacy substitute Sinclair on 75 minutes meant that the dying stages were a bit more nervy than they should have been. In the end it was a nineteenth successive home win, prompting a colleague at work to observe that they must be getting boring. Strangely enough, in this case it was.
LSSC Man of the Match: Richard Chaplow, again. He plays on the left, he plays on the right…