Saints overwhelm Boro
Saints 3 Middlesbrough 0
There had been a suspicion that Lallana hadn’t been risked for a few games to make sure he was available to face the division’s meanest defence, Middlesbrough. Whatever the explanation, he duly made a return, but in fact it was the less subtle approach of sending Fonte forward for set pieces that produced two very early chances.
Then, still with just 15 minutes played, Saints took the lead when Do Prado was unmarked as he headed home Butterfield’s cross.
Another cross led to a second goal as the Boro back line’s performance belied their reputation: this one involved a neat build up to produce a Lallana cross headed back across goal by Lambert to where Do Prado again found himself unmarked. The Brazilian should have had his hands on the match ball when fed by the rampant home midfield, but although his touch took the ball past Steele, the shot came back off the post.
The visitors’ defensive frailties against the high ball were further exposed after the break but Chaplow was offside when heading home. With this in mind, Do Prado’s replacement by Connolly was a bit of a surprise, but Saints continued to make all the running – mostly from the energetic Chaplow who galloped almost the length of the pitch and then retrieved an apparently lost ball before crossing to the unlikely figure of Fonte; this time Steele made a point blank save.
A third goal to kill the game came when Lambert got behind the Boro defence after a move of an alleged 25 touches and pulled the ball back for Connolly to lash home. The striker’s contact had not been completely clean, unlike a later acrobatic volley from Lambert that drew a save. A four goal margin would still have flattered Middlesbrough who had previously only conceded three away goals in the campaign.
LSSC Man of the Match: Richard Chaplow, but Lambert’s contribution was the more telling (although also goal-less).