Brighton 3-0 Saints
Saints were without Schneiderlin (suspended) and DeRidder (unexplained) for the trip to Brighton, but I think we look to have a better shape without the Belgian. And after a cagey opening, things seemed to be very much going to plan, with the only problem being how to put the ball into the net.
Some suggest that we did actually get the ball over the line, which is all that counts… but only if the officials agree – and referee D’Urso and his assistant didn’t agree that Lallana’s effort was in before being cleared by Cook. Mr. D’Urso never seems far from controversy and from the visitors’ end it seemed that he had completely misjudged a fair tackle by Harding on Mackail-Smith as he not only awarded a free kick but also cautioned the Saints man.
Harding now looked like a sending off waiting to happen and Nigel made the sensible move of replacing him with Fox after just 40 minutes. With the team still improving as the match went on, the lack of a penalty for a push on Lambert early in the second half was simply a disappointment. However, Lambert’s frustrations were clear, and when he clashed with El Abd (a nasty piece of work from the Gus Poyet school of nasty pieces of work), he found Andy D’Urso turning round just in time to see an elbow aimed in the direction of the defender.
A sending off for violent conduct was inevitable in the circumstances, and with Do Prado clearly injured, things looked bad. Saints were preparing Reeves for the substitution but chose Forte instead in the new situation, while Brighton sensed their chance and made attacking changes of their own.
It paid off for them on 66 minutes, with an error by Davis giving a chance taken by Forster-Caskey. Reeves wasn’t denied an appearance for long, but again it was a surprise to find Lallana making way. A way back is always difficult for ten men, but it got harder when Sparrow fired in a terrific shot from distance that this time gave Davis no chance.
Saints might have kept the match alive had Cork done better in front of goal, but then Sparrow punished some poor defending at a corner with the home side’s third. All that remained was for Greer to be sent off for a foul on Forte, but that’s scant consolation.
LSSC Man of the Match: Dean Hammond, who is usually the one most likely to see red on these visits to his old club.