Well matched men
International breaks are a feature of life in the Championship, so we just have to get used to them again. Southampton had a fortnight to reflect on their table topping position and a healthy 4-0 win last time out, while opponents Derby would have spent the time trying to forget a 0-4 reverse, although they wouldn’t have been disappointed with their standing either.
Saints also managed to get Lallana injured during the layoff, so Chaplow and Schneiderlin both started, with Hammond surprisingly left on the bench. After just two minutes, both midfielders were involved in some sloppy play that conceded possession, but Fonte also attracts blame in the move that led to Davis saving from Davies but being unable to prevent Robinson scoring.
That may not have been the worst thing that could have happened as Saints produced some rather good football in the hour that they were behind. A goal-line clearance was the nearest we came to a first half equaliser that would have been well deserved, but a goal for the visitors always looked likely.
It came almost immediately after De Ridder replaced Chaplow, but the instigator was Connolly and the finisher Lambert, who never looked like missing. Home defender Shackell also looked very like scoring at the same end a moment later when an instinctive prod at a cross sent the ball wide of his keeper and just past the post.
The next period of play, though, saw Derby the better of the well matched sides: their fans wondered whether Saints had taken their foot off the pedal, but I was inclined to think that the enforced substitution of Cywka for Davies following a head injury gave the Rams the impetus. Seven minutes of injury time saw both sides go close, but Saints in particular will rue how Lambert’s far post header just fell behind his colleagues in the six yard box.
LSSC Man of the Match: Rickie Lambert, with a good finish keeping him top of the goalscoring chart, and with a near-assist right at the end.