Watford 0-3 Saints
It may have been no more than the icing on the cake but Lee’s spectacular strike against Derby earned him a start at Watford, so moving him ahead of Sharp and Connolly in the pecking order. Meanwhile, Butterfield is now fit again and was chosen as a more natural replacement for Richardson than the left-sided Harding.
The hosts, though, made five changes to their line-up, including a debut for on loan Manchester United bench-warmer Tomasz Kuszczak in goal. He made a significant intervention on 13 minutes by coming for a hopeful lob forward and never looking like getting near to Lambert who was able to head into an empty net.
That goal came after an even, and frankly dull, opening but it set Saints on their way, and they were 2 up on 22 minutes, with Kuszczak as much a spectator as rest of us when Lambert drilled a fine shot into the bottom corner. The division’s leading scorer gave us a scare when he picked up what looked like an ankle injury that he was able to hobble off before the break, but it was a bit of a surprise not to see him spared further action – maybe Lallana’s earlier injury had an influence in the decision. So Saints still had the game’s outstanding player on the pitch, and he set up Lee for a chance which Kuszczak did well to parry. The Pole’s second significant intervention was ultimately in vain as Dickinson pushed Lee from behind in the chase for the loose ball and despite guessing right, the ferocity of Lambert’s penalty beat poor Tomasz for the third time – he would have had a far easier debut at the other end, where Davis enjoyed an undisturbed afternoon in the sun. Lambert struggled on until the 84th minute despite a further knock; he would have earned a standing ovation had anyone in the visitors’ enclosure been sitting down in the first instance. The result meant seven goals without reply in two matches, and a return to the top of the table, but it was a poor game – we set standards very high these days.
LSSC Man of the Match: Rickie Lambert, obviously.
18 Chaplow (Hammond – 77′ )
20 Lallana (Puncheon – 29′)
07 Lambert (Connolly – 84′ )