Saints march on
Saints 2, Wednesday 0
The reason regular supporters dislike televised matches is the disruption it causes to their matchday routine. When it comes to Saturday evening League 1 fixtures, there’s also the belief that most of those watching outside the fan base of the competing teams are just disinterested punters in the nation’s pubs and clubs. Because of a simultaneous rugby international, even they were missing for the game with Sheffield Wednesday, and any remaining Sky subscribers had probably tuned out well before the end of a fairly drab game.
It began promisingly enough, with Saints moving the ball well, and drawing a caution for Batth who prevented Lambert from running on in a promising position. Hopes that the booking would deter the visiting defenders were dashed by the eccentricities of a referee named Darren Deadman (yes, really) who only remained consistent in the lack of protection he gave Barnard. That meant our central striker had difficulty laying the ball off, and when the ball came back to the midfielders, they tended to over-elaborate in deep positions, and we frequently went even further backwards.
Schneiderlin is important in that he intervenes before the likes of Jaidi have to lump the ball forward, and as we don’t have anyone available for that role while he’s missing, it became a bit frustrating.
There was always the chance that Wednesday’s more direct approach on the break would catch us out, but they tended to overhit their passes until a corner just after the break caused no end of problems.
On the hour, though, Saints took the lead when a header on the run from Fonte converted Chamberlain’s corner after Barnard’s blocked shot had forced the set piece. The relief around the ground was clear, and a more relaxed team added a second soon afterwards when Barnard shrugged off an illegal tug in the box and his attempted shot fell nicely for Lambert to bury emphatically – we would have been unwise to have waited for Mr. Deadman’s decision over the penalty.
Lallana struck the near post with O’Donnell beaten, although the keeper had saved brilliantly from Hammond and, later, spectacularly from Chamberlain. Do Prado was one of the subs used to run the clock down, but he seems to have forgotten how to stay on his two feet during his lay off.
LSSC Man of the Match: Lee Barnard, who just about managed to keep his temper under control in difficult circumstances.
20 Lallana (Seaborne 90)
26 Oxlade-Chamberlain (Guly 77)
09 Barnard (Forte 86)