Dale do the double
Rochdale 0, Saints 2
A fair chunk of home counties’ football fans descended on Greater Manchester on 12th April, and while most were bound for Manchester United versus Chelsea in some sort of knock-out competition, for Saints followers there was the important matter of vital league points at stake at Rochdale.
Unfortunately, though, we returned without any spoils because of two pieces of poor defending in the first half. The first came on 28 minutes when Harding wasn’t strong enough in an aerial challenge with Thompson and the forward’s header looped into an unguarded part of the net.
The second, just before the break, saw Davis with his head in his hands afterwards: I’m sure there’s a goalkeeping joke in there somewhere, but it’s difficult to work it in with the nature of the error, which was to let in O’Grady‘s apparently non-lethal shot at the near post. It is true that Davis had rescued Saints from O’Grady’s pace when the score was 0-0, and it has to be admitted that the defending down our left side could have been better – in fact Harding was immediately substituted, with Forte given an early chance to show what pace he has.
The substitute proceeded to have an impressive second half, as Saints dominated events, whilst always looking vulnerable to a breakaway. That probably prompted the replacement of Jaidi, while Lallana was risked for the final quarter instead of Stephens, who can hardly be fully fit himself.
Those of us in the glass-half-empty brigade had already concluded that this was not going to be a lucky night, and so it proved as the ball just would not run for a forward line of Forte, Lambert, Barnard and Lallana (beyond the wildest dreams of most clubs in our division) and a deflected shot against the post was the closest we came to any celebrations.
LSSC Man of the Match: Jonathan Forte. OK, he only managed just over half a game and didn’t do as much with his several contributions as he had with three touches in his previous outing… but there wasn’t a credible alternative.
03 Harding (Forte 42)
15 Jaidi (Seaborne 68)
33 Stephens (Lallana 73)